Assessment and monitoring
Assessment is the quantitative evaluation of selected ecosystem attributes, and monitoring is the systematic repetition of the assessment process, that is, measurement of the same attributes in the same way, on a regular schedule. The placement and timing of samples is tailored to the spatial and temporal variability, including species’ phenology and population dynamics. A one-time sample does not constitute monitoring, nor does the haphazard timing of repeated assessments or the repeated measurement of an attribute using different sampling methods. The essence of monitoring is consistency. At the same time, monitoring programs must be able to evolve. As data accumulate, it becomes possible to evaluate the monitoring program (Desmond et al.,
) using the knowledge gained to determine whether the monitoring can be streamlined, or to indicate where sampling may need to be increased and additional ecosystem attributes considered. Monitoring of restoration sites is best approached within an adaptive management framework, an iterative process that incorporates scientific findings into management decisions (Box 6.1).