What are the different types of monitoring?

The monitoring work of guardian programs typically falls into several broad categories: ecological monitoring, cultural monitoring, compliance monitoring, and effectiveness monitoring. See the descriptions for each category below:

Info sheet

Description of Different Types of Monitoring

Ecological Monitoring

  • Ecological monitoring involves tracking changes on the lands and waters to understand any changes. Often, it involves establishing baseline conditions as well as thresholds that indicate acceptable/normal change and significant/concerning change. If you are using Indigenous indicators of ecosystem health, the knowledge keepers in your Indigenous community can help to determine what those thresholds are. Ecological monitoring covers a broad spectrum of activity and may involve monitoring for cumulative effects from multiple activities, tracking climate change impacts, or impact monitoring after an environmental emergency. It may also involve collecting species-specific information, for instance on species-at-risk, invasive plants/animals, or species of cultural importance.

Cultural Monitoring

  • Cultural monitoring ensures the protection of cultural sites (e.g. sacred sites, culturally modified trees, burial sites, high use cultural areas, etc.). It usually involves developing an inventory of these sites if this hasn’t been done already through other processes. Managing and monitoring cultural sites may bring unwanted attention to them, potentially making it harder to protect them. Often, high cultural value sites also have other high values (i.e. recreation, hunting). To address this, consider complementary strategies to manage access and use, establish cultural protocols, and ensure compliance.

Compliance Monitoring  

  • Compliance monitoring is focused on ensuring that industrial, commercial, recreational, or community activities on the lands and waters are in compliance with rules and regulations. These may be federal, territorial, provincial or Indigenous laws and regulations or associated resource management agreements, plans or policies. Compliance monitoring requires that Indigenous guardians have a thorough understanding of what they are monitoring for compliance against. It is important that they have formal authorization to do this work, backed up by documentation or agreements that can be provided when required. Because compliance monitoring may involve recording infractions as well as interacting with people who may be in violation (knowingly or unknowingly), other skills and supports become essential to keep guardians safe and effective in this role. These include strong communication and people skills, conflict resolution skills, well-established protocols and safety policies to follow, observation cards, uniforms, ID badges, and support information materials.

Effectiveness Monitoring

  • Effectiveness monitoring is done to determine how effective an existing management plan or management effort is. If the monitoring data suggests that the current management measures are not effective, the plan may need to be adjusted. For example, effectiveness monitoring plans can be designed to evaluate if a mining company’s management plan is being effective at maintaining ecosystem health or a restoration plan is being effective at rehabilitating an area. Effectiveness monitoring is part of an adaptive management approach.
Info sheet

Description of Different Types of Monitoring

Community resource

Community Based Monitoring Program Activities and Protocol - Mikisew Cree First Nation