Why most conservation monitoring is, but need not be, a waste of time.

School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Crew Building, King's Buildings, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JN, Scotland.
Journal of Environmental Management (Impact Factor: 3.19). 02/2006; 78(2):194-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2005.04.016
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Ecological conservation monitoring programmes abound at various organisational and spatial levels from species to ecosystem. Many of them suffer, however, from the lack of details of goal and hypothesis formulation, survey design, data quality and statistical power at the start. As a result, most programmes are likely to fail to reach the necessary standard of being capable of rejecting a false null hypothesis with reasonable power. Results from inadequate monitoring are misleading for their information quality and are dangerous because they create the illusion that something useful has been done. We propose that conservation agencies and those funding monitoring work should require the demonstration of adequate power at the outset of any new monitoring scheme.

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    ABSTRACT: Biodiversity monitoring requires sound data collection over large temporal and spatial scales in order to inform policy and conservation management. Citizen science programs, if designed appropriately, can make valuable contributions to data collection and analyses. Moreover, citizen science has potential for both environmental education and civic participation. Recommendations on effective citizen science are available in the literature, but most existing work has come from relatively rich, industrialized countries. By contrast, there is very little knowledge on citizen science projects in transitioning economic, social and cultural settings. This paper seeks to adjust this deficit by contributing insights from our attempt to initiate a new monitoring scheme in Romania. We draw on our experience of conducting workshops, training events and camps to strengthen citizen engagement in a butterfly monitoring scheme, and discussions with many stakeholders engaged in other monitoring programs inside and outside of Europe. We highlight four general themes that may be worth considering when initiating new citizen science projects in socio-economically challenging settings: (i) Engaging citizens requires a combination of formal and informal support; (ii) A culture of volunteering requires education as well as building capacity and confidence; (iii) Citizen science needs active integration of both national experts and local stakeholders; and (iv) Successful monitoring schemes require effective leadership. We conclude that particular attention should be paid to the cultural legacies of the target area.
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