6.6 Developing a Monitoring Report
The purpose of a monitoring report is to document how well a revegetation plan was implemented. This report is written and shared so that corrective measures can be made and that the lessons learned from implementing the revegetation project can be applied to future projects. Most projects fail to deliver a monitoring report for the following reasons:
- The monitoring plan was too complicated (massive amounts of extraneous data were generated)
- The monitoring was not designed in a meaningful or statistical manner
- The monitoring objectives were poorly stated
- Insufficient data were collected to draw any meaningful conclusions
- Data were lost
More than likely, the main reasons were that "there wasn't enough time" or "there were more important things to get done." In other words, writing a monitoring report often is not completed because it does not seem important at the time. It stands to reason, however, if time was taken to collect field data, time should be given to analyze and present the findings.
The value of a monitoring report is that it is often the only record of what was done on a revegetation project and how well it was executed. It is a statement to management as to whether revegetation objectives were met. Monitoring reports are often a required component of regulatory permits, such as when wetland construction is involved. It can also guide revegetation specialists and road managers to improve revegetation methods and reduce costs on future projects. In addition, monitoring reports can be referenced later to assess the effectiveness of species mixes and revegetation techniques in response to climate change.
The monitoring report does not have to be long. In fact, a two- to three-page report summarizing the important findings is often sufficient for most projects. That is also the appropriate length of a report that most people have time to read. The details of the data collection and analysis can be included in an appendix. Examples of several monitoring reports can be found in the Native Revegetation Resource Library by entering "Plans and Reports" in the Report Type dropdown menu and "Monitoring" in the Topic Type dropdown menu.
Every monitoring report will be different, but most reports address the following questions in some form:
- Who did the monitoring?
- When did monitoring occur?
- Where in the project was monitoring conducted?
- What was monitored?
- How was it monitored?
- How was it analyzed?
The above questions were addressed in the monitoring plan, so they should be easy to document. The report then answers these questions:
- Were the objectives met?
- Are corrective actions needed?
- What lessons were learned?
- Is there further monitoring that needs to occur?
Many monitoring reports are followed by appendices that contain some or all of the following:
- Data analysis
- Photo point monitoring
- Project diaries—A detailed account of all activities that took place during the project
- A summary of the revegetation treatments or activities that occurred on the project
Revegetating highly disturbed sites with native plants to maintain or increase pollinator habitat is a relatively new field of study. Well-designed and executed monitoring projects can provide useful information to a wider audience of practitioners, designers, scientists, and managers working in this field. Conferences, societies, newsletters, journals, and trade publications are some venues to share this knowledge. The small-scale trials that were tested during implementation of a revegetation plan (e.g., different rates of fertilizer, tackifier, seeds, and hydromulch) are likely of great interest to other designers. By taking the time to share monitoring results, the science and practice of revegetating highly disturbed sites can be advanced and future revegetation projects can be improved.