Wildlife & Traffic

A European Handbook for Identifying Conflicts and Designing Solutions

9 Monitoring and Evaluation
Original version (2003)

9.2 Designing a monitoring programme

9.2.1 The monitoring programme from design to application

The application of the monitoring programme begins when the transport infrastructure is opened. However, the purpose of the programme must be established right at the beginning of the development of the project during the design and planning phase. A summary of the whole process is shown in Figure 9.3 and includes three major steps that are described below.

Designing the monitoring programme and establishing the baseline conditions during the planning phase

Knowledge about the baseline conditions of habitats and species allows comparison to be made with the results obtained after the construction of the transport infrastructure. This information is also fundamental to the identification of sensitive areas and target species. Baseline conditions must be clearly defined during the initial stages of infrastructure planning, during the preliminary studies and especially in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The Environmental Impact Study should contain a detailed description of habitats (type, distribution, degree of fragmentation, conservation value, etc.), species (distribution, sensitivity to habitat fragmentation, population level, conservation interest) and wildlife corridors (see Chapter 5). The ES is also the most suitable report in which to include the design of the monitoring programme, identifying the goals for mitigation measures and the activities that must be carried out in order to evaluate their effectiveness, with a detailed description of methods, periodicity of controls, standards, etc.

Controlling the application of measures during the construction phase

Monitoring the works during the construction period of the infrastructure is an opportunity to ensure the effectiveness of measures. During the construction of the infrastructure, it is important to carry out inspections and quality control activities on site. These activities are routinely carried out in some countries to avoid negative impacts on the surrounding habitats during the construction phase, but they are also needed to ensure the correct installation and construction of the measures that will allow the achievement of their goals. New conditions and unexpected changes can appear during this phase which were not detected in the EIA and these may require the implementation of new measures or adaptation of the measures originally proposed.

Applying monitoring activities during the operational phase

The application of the monitoring programme should start when the infrastructure opens. During this phase controls are applied and an evaluation of the effectiveness of measures is carried out. As described in the next chapter, the dissemination of the results is also part of this process.

Figure 9.3 - Phases in the life of an infrastructure project and the design and planning of the monitoring programme.

9.2.2 Steps for the design of the monitoring programme

The procedure for the design of a monitoring programme is summarised in the following six steps (see Figure 9.4):

  1. Analysing the general characteristics of the infrastructure, baseline conditions (species, habitats and landscape features) and overview of mitigation measures.This information should be produced during the planning phase and especially by the EIA procedure. The number of mitigation measures should be identified, describing the technical characteristics, location and goals of each one. The existence of sensitive natural areas or endangered species must be taken into account in order to identify specific monitoring requirements.
  2. Selecting and describing measures to be monitored and evaluated.The selection must be carried out on the basis of clear criteria and include all those measures, the effectiveness of which has not yet been clearly established. The description should also include a representative number of the different types of measures taken to avoid, mitigate and compensate habitat fragmentation.
  3. Identifying the need for specific ecological monitoring when endangered species or habitats are affected.This type of activity requires more complex methodologies and long-term monitoring to be undertaken by specialists. This can be carried out in parallel to the routine monitoring programme.
  4. Describing in detail the monitoring activities.A detailed description of each mitigation measure (or system of related measures) including:
    • The objective to be achieved with the application of the measure, describing the variables on which evaluation will focus and the standards to be used, expressed as quantifiable measurements where possible. The existence of clear and measurable goals enables evaluation of whether or not the objectives are met.
    • Target species or habitats.
    • The protocols for monitoring methods, including the techniques to obtain information (as standardised as possible) and the duration and periodicity of measurements. The monitoring should cover a minimum period of three years. The evaluation of effectiveness should not be based on the results obtained immediately after the opening of the infrastructure, because the animals need a period to adapt to the changed surroundings.
    • The procedure of storing and analysing the information obtained. It is also recommended to include in the monitoring programme a section describing the monitoring of activities to be included in the quality control plan that it is carried out during the construction phase (see Section 9.3). This is an important step to guarantee that the measures will not fail due to inappropriate materials or problems of construction.
  5. Defining the contents of the monitoring report.

    These reports must include as a minimum the following sections:

    • A description of measures that have been monitored and methods applied. 
    • Identification of non-effective measures and reasons for their failure.
    • The design of new measures to be taken to improve the effectiveness of existing ones.
    • Recommendations to improve the design of future measures. 
  6. Establishing a system for the dissemination of the results.

    It is important to establish the dissemination activities and systems to guarantee the accessibility of data from the monitoring programme to all the stakeholders.

The design of the programme should be carried out during the planning phase (see Figure 9.3) but the monitoring activities and the evaluation of measures are developed during the operational phase, usually by professionals who have not been involved in the design of the measures. For this reason it is recommended that all the information needed to carry out the monitoring programme is compiled in a document that will provide the guidelines to implement the programme.

The organisations which manage the transport infrastructure in each country or region should provide detailed instructions based on these general procedures to ensure that the results of the monitoring of different projects are comparable.

Figure 9.4 - Steps to design a monitoring programme for mitigation measures.