The links here are set to open on a new page so you can keep track of where you are and the page can be downloaded as a work sheet in Word format for you to use to keep track of your progress and to provide the basis of your program (and to identify gaps which you need to fill in or get advice on). The web site has more information available than is linked to this page so use the search function to look for additional information if you need to.
Preliminary questions Who are you doing this for?
Who owns the project?
Who is interested in the outcomes?
How much institutional support is there? ( Establish the long term institutional situation, knowledge transfer, responsibilities, legal issues etc.)
Are senior management/Council committed to the outcomes?
Why are you concerned about the environment? What are the issues?
What evidence do you have already to identify the issues of concern? (Exploit existing data and do ad hoc surveys and confirmatory testing of the quick and dirty type e.g. look at the stream (what can you see and smell?; where? when?), take a few samples and gather all the documents together that you can.)
Can/have you prioritised issues (risk; cost-effectiveness/etc)
Are there human health impacts? Have you done a sanitary survey of the catchment?
What actions are proposed that you expect to have an impact (positive or negative)?
Map location of impacts/sources
What assumptions or models etc do you base your concerns on?
(There are always assumptions and mental models behind what we do; the greatest danger is when we are unaware of those assumptions and ways of seeing the world because we cannot challenge them or test them.)
Have you consulted the community about their concerns?
A preliminary structure for considering the level and extent of community consultation:
Known or potential level of impact ("hazard")
Known or potential scale of impact ("hazard")
Level of concern ("outrage")
Likelihood of change
Peter Sandman developed the idea that Risk = Hazard + Outrage and has useful things to say about risk communication. Bringing "hazard" and "outrage" into alignment may be a critical part of your program. There may be a temptation to ignore a high hazard if there is no outrage but sooner or later it will bite you somewhere sensitive. Being aware of the potential for change, either in outrage (community awareness) or hazard (ongoing pollution, change of scale due to events,...) can guide your priority setting and where you need to direct your resources.
Can you draw a diagram of the situation of concern and how your program fits in?
Check that management intentions are implemented, and check whether the management actually works. Don't just rely on measuring the output; if nothing is actually done on the ground you can't expect to measure a change. And especially don't waste your time measuring only the input!
How will you choose between alternatives? Standard management tools such as decision trees can be used to clarify your understanding of your choices and to provide an explicit statement of your beliefs about the probability of particular outcomes (a measure of the risk of the program).
Heterogeneous with systematic and
Estimating and comparing means
Randomised block design
Analysis of pattern and process
Estimating and comparing means
for combinations of factors
Prediction of a value from a
Simple random sampling
Prediction of a value from more
than one predictor
Where and when will you sample?
Use Green's table of designs to identify the type of program you are planning and then look at the kinds of sampling you will need to do. (Think about your design and how you can use the results - do you have reference or control sites? Can you stratify your sampling sites?)
Can you afford the program you need?
If not, what can you afford that is worth doing?
Take into account both direct (cost of materials and services) and indirect costs (staff time and the alternative work they might be doing - "opportunity cost") Can you use volunteers for (part of) the work?
How and when will you communicate the results?
To your team?
To your managers?
To your Council?
To the community?
(Sometimes there is a time for being hard headed - come back year after year to hound the likes of the relevant government agencies and utilities - this is where you can use the media - starting with local media and then ramping up if you need to. Remember the "outrage" factor!)