Adaptive Monitoring and Management Plans

For the last 13 years or so I have been working alongside engineers, who, when it comes to managing a program don’t seem to understand natural systems.  After all, if you use the right contractors you only have to pour concrete once.  Monitoring of their projects are set around a very rigid set of criteria, is there dust, is an item a specific angle or size, does it leak.  Natural systems with their variability tended to confuse them.  One really struggled to get his head around the fact that you have to do repeat treatments to control weeds.  I believe the phrase was “but you did that last month”.

Natural systems are not static, they constantly evolve.  Some systems change more than others depending on the factors putting pressure on them.  As such it makes a lot of sense to me that a monitoring or management program should be able to evolve as well.  If you are monitoring the health of an ecosystem by recording a specific species, what would you do if disease wipes them out or a predator moves in and eats them all?  It doesn’t necessarily mean that the ecosystem is less healthy or unstable, it may just mean that it’s changed a bit.  It may even result in a healthier and more stable ecosystem.

If you were fixed into a rigid monitoring program your study or management program may just have been ruined.  If you can modify what you were measuring in a valid way, you can continue your work and still get results which can feed further research or direct management practices.

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