Conservation Monitoring in Freshwater Habitats: An Introduction
Conservation monitoring differs from other forms of ecological investigation by making assessments against predetermined targets. Clear decision-making is essential, and a simple model can be used to facilitate targets for maintenance management and restoration management: monitoring has a critical role in this. Developing an efficient and reliable monitoring project involves a series of distinct steps, these include identifying the conservation priority; collating the relevant knowledge from existing research and survey exercises; developing a conservation strategy; identifying site-specific condition indicators; selecting appropriate monitoring sites; collecting the data; feeding back into management and safeguarding the monitoring data.
Unambiguous aims are fundamental to the success of a monitoring project, but there are few examples in the literature that are not open to observer interpretation. Naturalness is often quoted as the conservation aim, but is rarely defined in terms that can be consistently assessed. It is also debatable whether ‘naturalness’ is a reasonable conservation goal when the requirements of the human population is taken into account: a more realistic approach would identify which parts of a river, lake or wetland system should be in a clearly defined state and at which times of year.
KeywordsConservation management monitoring surveillance naturalness condition indicators
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