Ensuring the long-term conservation of ecosystems: The role of monitoring databases

Hopcraft, J.G.C. (2011) Ensuring the long-term conservation of ecosystems: The role of monitoring databases. In: Randall, D., Thirgood, S. and Kinahan, A. (eds.) Walia: Special Edition on the Bale Mountains. Series: WALIA: Journal of the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society. Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, pp. 306-331.

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Compiling and using information about protected areas is critical to long-term conservation management. Information provides institutional memory, which enables protected areas to critically investigate processes and answer management questions independently. Furthermore, routine collection of information about a protected area highlights priorities and facilitates the wise use of resources. In addition, information collected by protected areas contributes to understanding regional processes and ultimately supports conservation efforts in the political arena by providing a factual backbone on which assertions and decisions are made. Ideally, a monitoring program for a protected area should reflect the objectives established in the General Management Plan (which also documents the threats the protected area faces). Data can be expensive and tedious to collect; it is important to carefully balance the costs and effort involved in collecting data against its relevance. Forming links to other databases avoids the expense of duplication and strengthens the database’s utility through information sharing. Furthermore, devising ways to include historical data makes new databases immediately useful and additionally strengthens a database. Cataloguing data sources (i.e. metadata) is exceptionally important, as it can save time with editing and can provide indices of data quality. Maintaining links with the original source of the data also facilitates long-term collaborations with other institutions. The Internet provides the largest resource of freely available data and is fundamental for acquiring useful information for park management. Maintaining the flow of information between field staff, managers and donors is important since it boosts morale, provides solidarity, and assists in raising additional funds. There is a tendency for over ambitious projects to become unmanageable and lead to failure. For a database to work it must start very simply and develop with the protected area, growing to fill the niche as it is required.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hopcraft, Dr Grant
Authors: Hopcraft, J.G.C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Publisher:Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society

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