Checking for change: A practical guide to checking whether sites newly managed for conservation are on track to improve

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Stol, Jacqui; Doerr, Veronica ORCID ID icon; Davies, Micah; Doerr, Erik



47 p

Why use this approach to check for change? How will you know whether your work to improve the environmental condition of sites is actually making a difference? Whether you are managing grazing to increase native plant diversity, replanting a shrub layer, and/or controlling weeds, it’s important to know whether you are on track, and knowing that sooner rather than later can help you adjust your management. However most monitoring at the moment focuses on reporting which management actions are performed, not what they achieve in terms of improving the environment. When we try to ask whether improvement is really happening, most currently used are unlikely to be able to reveal an answer unless used for decades, and they often involve hours of detailed data collection. The indicators we share in this Guide will let you know if you’re on track over much shorter timeframes (2 to 6 years). They are easy to use, provide simple accurate data and are based on the latest science. You can use our BioCollect website to enter, store and share data so we can all learn about improvement on properties, within regions, across states - even nationally. Checking for Change will complement more detailed, longer-term monitoring methods and allow more people to participate in monitoring - including individual land managers, schools, and community groups. Many of the indicators are common components of longer-term monitoring approaches but the way the information is collected has been modified to make it simpler and easier for ‘citizen scientists’ to do. The Checking for Change approach can thus help managers and funders of environmental management do more monitoring of real outcomes and quickly learn whether they are on track or need to keep experimenting with their management. Changing focus - looking down beneath the trees When we check a site we often look at the big picture - do the trees look healthy, is it weedy, are shrubs re-growing? However, because improvements often happen at ground level first (even below the plants, down in the soil), the indicators in Checking for Change involve observing the ground layer - including leaf litter, bare ground, and even the bugs living there - not just the plants. By shifting your focus down, you can more effectively track a site’s progress in the early years after you have changed management. ...



ecological indicators; monitoring; short-term; survey methodology

Ecosystem Function

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Stol, Jacqui; Doerr, Veronica; Davies, Micah; Doerr, Erik. Checking for change: A practical guide to checking whether sites newly managed for conservation are on track to improve. Canberra: CSIRO; 2016. csiro:EP167033.

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