Monitoring is the repeated measurement of an indicator to assess how the indicator is changing through time. It can be qualitative or quantitative monitoring.
Evaluation is using the information collected in the monitoring programme to answer some specific questions of the project (evaluating the information).
(Note: monitoring for the presence of invasive species is called surveillance – see below.)
In an invasive species management project there are three types of monitoring:
As part of the Project Plan you will define the outcomes of the project – the positive benefits of the management of the target species. To evaluate and demonstrate the success of the project you will need to measure indicators and evaluate that information to tell you whether you are achieving your outcomes. To give a complete picture you may need to measure more than one indicator for each outcome.
When selecting the indicator you need to ask yourself: “What can I repeatedly measure (before and after the treatment(s)) that will allow me to show that the project is achieving its objectives?” Select a small number of well-thought-out and meaningful indicators that you can analyse. As outcome monitoring can be time consuming and expensive it is better to concentrate on collecting fewer, better quality data than measuring many indicators less comprehensively.
A baseline measurement is the pre-treatment (before) monitoring to tell you what things are like before the treatment(s) starts. Repeating the same measurements after the treatment(s) enables a direct comparison between the before and after conditions at the site. This provides a clear measure of the effects of the management.
As monitoring involves comparing repeated measurements it is important that the monitoring plan is well thought through and the same measurements are taken each time you monitor, so that you are evaluating the same things (e.g. number of lizards) each time.
The details and work required to monitor project outcomes are recorded in the Monitoring Plan.
Remember - outcome monitoring will always include:
At least one indicator for each project objective.
Monitoring of the presence/absence of the targeted invasive species and other newly invaded species (surveillance).
Monitoring of the outcomes that result from the absence of the target invasive species, e.g. positive (and negative) effects on native species.
Maps made using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology can assist in all types of monitoring.
(Map: Shingo Takeda)
Monitoring will be used in the Operational Planning and Implementation stages as part of the preparation and undertaking of the actual treatment. The detail of the operational monitoring is recorded in the Operational Plan.
In the Operational Planning stage, monitoring may need to be used in trials to help resolve unanswered questions arising from the Feasibility Study or provide further information needed in the planning of the operation. Common uses of monitoring include:
Assessing application rates
Assessing treatment effectiveness i.e. cut-stump versus hack-and-squirt
During the treatment(s) there are a number of details that the project manager will need to monitor closely to ensure the smooth running of the operation. These may include:
Amount of herbicide used
Number of plants, or area, treated
The project manager is responsible for the progress of the project. To review this progress, the project manager will use a set of project management indicators that can be readily analysed. These indicators are chosen from different aspects of the project to give a view of the schedule and budget of the project.
Budget and money spent is one of the key project management indicators and will be monitored closely on all projects. Other project management monitoring may include, for example: monitoring the risks of the project, status of key tasks/activities, safety of the team and public awareness of the project.
The results from the evaluation will be used to inform senior managers and other stakeholders, e.g. funders, of project status. This will be part of the project reporting. Many funders will make project reporting a condition when providing funding.
Project management monitoring is defined in the Project Governance section of the Project Plan.