Eight things you should never do in a monitoring program: An Australian perspective

David B. Lindenmayer, John Woinarski, Sarah Legge, Martine Maron, Stephen T. Garnett, Tyrone Lavery, Jaana Dielenberg, Brendan A. Wintle

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Monitoring is critical to gauge the effect of environmental management interventions as well as to measure the effects of human disturbances such as climate change. Recognition of the critical need for monitoring means that, at irregular intervals, recommendations are made for new government-instigated programs or to revamp existing ones. Using insights from past well-intentioned (but sadly also often failed) attempts to establish and maintain government-instigated monitoring programs in Australia, we outline eight things that should never be done in environmental monitoring programs (if they aim to be useful). These are the following: (1) Never commence a new environmental management initiative without also committing to a monitoring program. (2) Never start a monitoring program without clear questions. (3) Never implement a monitoring program without first doing a proper experimental design. (4) Never ignore the importance of matching the purpose and objectives of a monitoring program to the design of that program. (5) Never change the way you monitor something without ensuring new methods can be calibrated with the old ones. (6) Never try to monitor everything. (7) Never collect data without planning to curate and report on it. (8) If possible, avoid starting a monitoring program without the necessary resources secured. To balance our "nevers", we provide a checklist of actions that will increase the chances a monitoring program will actually measure the effectiveness of environmental management. Scientists and resource management practitioners need to be part of a stronger narrative for, and key participants in, well-designed, implemented, and maintained government-led monitoring programs. We argue that monitoring programs should be mandated in threatened species conservation programs and all new environmental management initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number701
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


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