An integrated monitoring framework for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area
Monitoring provides important feedback on how social and environmental systems are tracking and whether or not human activities, including management activities, are having an impact. This paper describes an approach applied to develop an integrated monitoring framework to inform adaptive management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, a complex, multi-jurisdictional, multi-sectoral marine system of international importance. It identifies the gaps and opportunities to integrate the existing long-term, short-term and compliance-related monitoring and reporting initiatives to provide the information for more effective and efficient (adaptive) management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. And as importantly it aligns expectations among different agencies about how monitoring will inform management. Fifty two high priority values, processes and pressures for management were identified along with 65 existing monitoring programs. Developing the monitoring framework was useful in several ways. First it brought together scientists, policy-makers, managers, and other interested stakeholders with different agendas, philosophies and incentives and established a common purpose, lexicon and language for an integrated monitoring program. Second, it highlighted the importance and usefulness of qualitative conceptual models as a framework for focused discussion around a set of hypotheses with relevance for management. Third, the process started an important conversation about defining and setting a realistic number of monitoring priorities for management. Finally, it has provided direction for how to build on existing initiatives to develop an integrated monitoring program for a globally significant world heritage area.