Forest biodiversity monitoring programs, by evaluating the performance of existing management regimes and helping to identify opportunities for improved practice, represent an essential ingredient in the development of more sustainable management systems. Nevertheless many costly monitoring efforts are often little more than 'tick the box' exercises that do little more than erode the credibility of science. The purpose of this book is to identify the key elements of a robust and pragmatic framework for how monitoring and evaluation programs can make a more meaningful contribution to the development of an ecologically sustainable system of forest use. To be meaningful monitoring programs need to be purposeful and grounded in clear objectives, effective in providing reliable assessments of the links between management activities and changes in forest biodiversity, and realistic in light of real-world financial, logistical and social constraints. Science can make a substantial contribution to achieving these aims but a key component of success lies in overcoming the organisational insularity that currently exists between researchers, managers and bureaucrats.
The first part of the book lays out the importance of biodiversity monitoring in achieving responsible management, and sheds light on the key obstacles and challenges that have thus far confounded attempts to integrate meaningful monitoring programs into forest management systems. The second part presents an operational framework for developing improved forest biodiversity monitoring systems. These proposals address the challenges central to the scoping, design and implementation stages of a forest biodiversity monitoring program, including the definition of program goals and objectives, the indicator selection process, and data collection, analysis and interpretation.
The book is not intended to provide a 'how-to manual' of technical issues but rather to encourage a broader appreciation of the purpose and overall design of an effective monitoring program – with a particular emphasis on designing monitoring programs that are successful in the context of real-world challenges and constraints. The book ends with a section on integrating biodiversity information into the bigger picture and how to frame and evaluate trade-offs in multiple use forests.