What methods should be used to collect data?

The information your guardian program collects will likely vary depending on the monitoring priorities and indicators you’ve selected. It could include some combination of the following types of data:

  • Quantitative - such as the location and number of particular wildlife species or the number of observed commercial fishing boats.
  • Qualitative - such as a detailed description of the state of a cultural site or a written record of an interview with a resource user.
  • Scientific measurements - such as dissolved oxygen in water or temperature.
  • Lab analysis - such as samples taken from soils, fish or seaweed.

A well-designed monitoring plan considers how you will use the data before you start collecting it.

Collecting data for data’s sake is a sure fire way to waste valuable resources or to lose support for your program. Focus your monitoring efforts on collecting data that can influence change, whether that means influencing your own resource management decisions or negotiating with external government agencies or industry (e.g. to inform referrals, management plans, or high level agreements).

You may want to look at established or best-practice scientific methods to collect data. Talk to university, government, or private sector professionals and researchers to find out what data has already been collected for your region or issue of concern and what methods were used. Evaluate this information to determine if using the same methodology is in your best interest. Using established methods could save you time and money, allow you to compare the data you collect with other data sets, or build broader buy-in to your findings.

For example, if you are collecting data in order to influence the provincial government regarding wildlife management, it is helpful if government accepts your monitoring approach and methodology.

In our experience, you should start with a data collection method that has buy-in. If you are trying to influence the province, ensure they have reviewed your monitoring method and buy into it. The more data we collect, the more we become experts in terms of the moose on Gitanyow territory and on hunting and management issues. If things do go to court, we have all this background information that will be important in influencing the decision. They will do what they can to pick apart your data, so having a qualified professional sign off on the data and research helps.

Kevin Koch, Gitanyow Fisheries Authority - Lax'yip Guardians Program
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"In our experience, you should start with a data collection method that has buy-in..."

See the approach that Coastal First Nations took to developing methods for their Regional Monitoring System in these Overview and Methods and Instructions documents. The Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Society has developed several specific data collection manuals for their guardians: archeaological siteeelgrass, clam, and crab.

Inevitably, the community, industry and government will ask questions about your data. Try to ensure that whatever approach you take, your methodology is clear, defensible, and delivers credible data. Regularly review and evaluate your data records and data input processes to ensure data quality is high (often referred to as quality assurance/quality control measures). This will ensure any problems with data collection or data input and management are identified on an ongoing basis and can be rectified. Provide ongoing guidance to staff to improve data quality and consistency.

See the approach that Coastal First Nations took to developing methods for their Regional Monitoring System in these Overview and Methods and Instructions documents. The Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Society has developed several specific data collection manuals for their guardians: archeaological site, eelgrass, clam, and crab. Inevitably, the community, industry and government will ask questions about your data. Try to ensure that whatever approach you take, your methodology is clear, defensible, and delivers credible data. Regularly review and evaluate your data records and data input processes to ensure data quality is high (often referred to as quality assurance/quality control measures). This will ensure any problems with data collection or data input and management are identified on an ongoing basis and can be rectified. Provide ongoing guidance to staff to improve data quality and consistency.
Community resource

Coastal Stewardship Network – Coastal Guardian Watchman Regional Monitoring System Overview

Community resource

Regional Monitoring System Methods and Instructions - Coastal Stewardship Network

The ‘Regional Monitoring System Methods and Instructions’ shared by the Coastal Stewardship Network describes methods for collecting data and filling in field cards, including patrol effort, wildlife, trap and boat sightings; approaching tourists; enforcement incidents; and impacts to cultural and ecological sites.  These methods were originally developed in 2010 and have evolved and changed si

Community resource

Regional Monitoring System Methods and Instructions - Coastal Stewardship Network

Community resource

Archaeological Site Recording - Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network

Community resource

Eelgrass Monitoring Manual - Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network

Community resource

Clam Survey Manual - Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network

Community resource

Crab Survey Manual - Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network