Biodiversity monitoring in the rangelands: A way forward – Volume 2, Case Studies

Biodiversity monitoring in the rangelands: A way forward – Volume 2, Case Studies Report

  • Author(s): Hunt, L, Fisher, A, Kutt, A, Mazzer, T
  • Published: 2007
  • Publisher: Department of Environment and Water Resources, Commonwealth of Australia
  • Volume: 2

Abstract: Monitoring biodiversity in the rangelands is a complex and difficult task to achieve at appropriate scales and precision. In recent years the uptake and implementation of biodiversity monitoring has been limited despite the increasing interest in maintaining biodiversity values. This report presents the results of a project designed to enhance the uptake of biodiversity monitoring by conducting a series of case studies of monitoring in the rangelands. Both regional and enterprise-level case studies are considered. The case studies demonstrated that there is broad support amongst natural resource management (NRM) groups and land managers for biodiversity monitoring but numerous constraints limit the implementation of monitoring programs. These constraints include technical difficulties with methods and indicators, uncertainty about the purpose and benefits of monitoring, uncertainty about who has responsibility for biodiversity monitoring, the high cost (financially and in terms of time and labour) of achieving credible monitoring results and the lack of relevant skills and expertise amongst regional people and land managers. A lack of basic environmental data (e.g. vegetation associations, soils, species present) for most properties (and many regions) also impedes monitoring programs. As a consequence very little biodiversity monitoring currently occurs. To increase the degree of biodiversity monitoring that occurs NRM groups and land managers require additional support, particularly in the practical aspects of implementing a biodiversity monitoring program. The case studies reviewed a list of previously identified indicators for their utility and feasibility in biodiversity monitoring at the regional and enterprise levels. Indicators that were favoured tended to be those that required only limited expertise to measure, were strongly linked to management activities and were meaningful in terms of change in biodiversity status. A strong message that emerged from the case studies was the need for people to have confidence that the indicators used truly reflect the biodiversity situation. However, there is generally a lack of meaningful and robust indicators and surrogates for use at the broad scales required in the rangelands. This lack represents an important research need. Efforts to identify better indicators and surrogates that have improved reliability and efficiency might also contribute to more cost-effective monitoring. Key recommendations arising from this project include the following: - training in monitoring for people involved in biodiversity monitoring at enterprise and regional levels - regionally-based biodiversity support officers that can be called upon for advice and guidance by people implementing monitoring programs - facilitation of the collection of baseline data at property and regional levels, or where this information is already available build systems that make it more readily accessible to NRM groups and individuals. - establish who (i.e. individuals and/or organisations) has the responsibility for conducting and reporting on biodiversity monitoring. At present there is an almost universal lack of clarity about this issue. - further investigation of the potential for incentives to increase the involvement of people and groups in biodiversity monitoring and, if appropriate, develop and provide meaningful incentives - simpler, more practical and more meaningful indicators or surrogates need to be tested to make monitoring easier and provide confidence that what is being assessed is providing a genuine measure of change in the status of biodiversity values (for particular taxa). An action-research approach involving local people and groups should be adopted for this work. - improved coordination (and to some degree standardisation) of monitoring effort is required at the regional level to ensure robust, systematic monitoring programs are implemented - compile a suite of resources to support the development of biodiversity monitoring programs. These resources should be made widely available and include web sites, contact officers and publications on the technical aspects of monitoring. Promoting awareness of such resources would also be required. The information in this report provides the basis for the development of a how-to manual that would provide general guidance on establishing biodiversity monitoring.

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Suggested Citation
Hunt, L, Fisher, A, Kutt, A, Mazzer, T, 2007, Biodiversity monitoring in the rangelands: A way forward – Volume 2, Case Studies, Volume:2, Report, viewed 13 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3692.

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