Effective biodiversity monitoring is critical to evaluate, learn from, and ultimately improve conservation practice. Well conceived, designed and implemented monitoring of biodiversity should: (i) deliver information on trends in key aspects of biodiversity (e.g. population changes); (ii) provide early warning of problems that might otherwise be difficult or expensive to reverse; (iii) generate quantifiable evidence of conservation successes (e.g. species recovery following management) and conservation failures; (iv) highlight ways to make management more effective; and (v) provide information on return on conservation investment. The importance of effective biodiversity monitoring is widely recognized (e.g. Australian Biodiversity Strategy). Yet, while everyone thinks biodiversity monitoring is a good idea, this has not translated into a culture of sound biodiversity monitoring, or widespread use of monitoring data. We identify four barriers to more effective biodiversity monitoring in Australia. These are: (i) many conservation programmes have poorly articulated or vague objectives against which it is difficult to measure progress contributing to design and implementation problems; (ii) the case for long-term and sustained biodiversity monitoring is often poorly developed and/or articulated; (iii) there is often a lack of appropriate institutional support, co-ordination, and targeted funding for biodiversity monitoring; and (iv) there is often a lack of appropriate standards to guide monitoring activities and make data available from these programmes. To deal with these issues, we suggest that policy makers, resource managers and scientists better and more explicitly articulate the objectives of biodiversity monitoring and better demonstrate the case for greater investments in biodiversitymonitoring. There is an urgent need for improved institutional support for biodiversity monitoring in Australia, for improved monitoring standards, and for improved archiving of, and access to, monitoring data. We suggest that more strategic financial, institutional and intellectual investments in monitoring will lead to more efficient use of the resources available for biodiversity conservation and ultimately better conservation outcomes.