Introduction to the guidance manual
7. The relationship between monitoring and site management
One of the principal reasons for undertaking site monitoring is to assess whether management practices have been effective or not. It follows that there must be a close link between management planning and monitoring. Sound conservation objectives can only be derived by considering the ecology of the habitats and species (at community, ecosystem and landscape scales) on the site and, where appropriate management is known, the range of management options available. Ideally, conservation objectives should be formulated within the context of a management plan which specifies the practical measures needed to achieve favourable condition for the range of interest features present on the site. This offers a mechanism for resolving any potential conflicts between different interest features (see sections 8 and 17).
Once monitoring has been completed and an assessment made of the condition of the feature, there should be a feedback loop to site management, taking into account the information gathered on potential threats and management measures. The monitoring assessment may trigger adjustments to site management practices, or possibly be used to direct more detailed investigation into the reasons for apparent problems. If condition monitoring is only undertaken once every six years as required under CSM, this cannot be relied upon as the sole mechanism for reviewing site management – it needs to be supplemented by compliance monitoring (to assess whether agreed management prescriptions are being followed), and possibly more frequent assessments on problematic or priority sites. Where the reasons for an unfavourable assessment are unclear, or the appropriate management response is unknown, there may be a need for further, more detailed survey, monitoring or research activities.