Making a team
It is important to resource any monitoring program in terms of both people and finances. Building a team, both internally and externally builds support and provides additional sources of information and knowledge about both the immediate area of interest and how your program might fit into broader strategies and programs
Defining your question
This section provides an overview of the “why”s of monitoring and how management choices determine the kind of monitoring program you will design and implement. It is important to recognise the management context so that any program recognises the social and other limitations and how the program will be interpreted and reported.
Designing your program
An atypical, and challenging, way to approach experimental design is to take the attitude that you are telling a story, a kind of environmental “who dunnit”. How do you translate the “story” into a program? What are the clues or information you, our environmental detective, will need to be certain you have the real culprit arrested?
A good experimental design is not an accident. In the same way that a good story requires effort and clear thinking, and the ability to anticipate the mind of the reader, a good design marshals evidence that is convincing and satisfying.
While technical quality is a vital component of an environmental sampling program the core issue should always be the quality of decisions. Assessment methods need to be considered in the context of the specific program.
Ensuring usable data
Any question of environmental sampling that relies on analysing only part of the universe of interest will result in errors and uncertainty. Quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) applies to all steps in the program and must be followed up at each step.
Implementing the program
This section deals with key elements of implementing your program in the field, including:
Standard operating procedures
Ensuring reliable data handling
Managing and analysing your data
Data analysis should be viewed as an integral component of the environment monitoring process and not something you think about after you get your results.
Reporting the results
The key issue here is that communication is integral to the design of the project, not an “add on” when it is all over. If a project is to be effective it must be supported.