Monitoring and assessment are important tools for effective management and can provide information to detect changes in condition that might trigger a management response, determine the cause of changes of concern, and evaluate the effectiveness of management actions.

Assessment normally refers to a one-time measurement or assessment of variables relating to ecological or social conditions or pressures. Monitoring involves repeating surveys measures through time, usually with the aim of detecting change, such as trends in coral cover or fish abundance. For example, a one-off survey of coral reefs damaged by a ship grounding would be considered an assessment, whereas surveying the same coral reef sites annually using the same or nearly the same methods is monitoring.

This section provides an overview of designing monitoring programs and conducting assessments. Guidance is provided for developing responsive and participatory monitoring programs, and assessing and monitoring reef resilience and socioeconomic conditions.

Monitoring programs can be used to inform practical management actions and aid in the design of resilient MPAs and networks. Photo © S. Kilarski

A monitoring plan will guide the selection of indicators and provide the rationale for setting thresholds and triggers

Last updated January 26, 2018

Designing a Monitoring Plan

Reef ecosystem health monitoring can provide managers with practical information on reef communities and status. Learn more.

Assessing and Monitoring Reef Resilience

Coral reef resilience assessments and resilience monitoring programs are an important part of reef resilience and increasingly applied by resource managers around the world. Learn more.

Socioeconomic Assessment and Monitoring

People and coral reef ecosystems are inextricably linked: the ecosystem provides important services to local communities and industries, and ecosystem health is strongly influenced by human activities. Understanding these linkages is crucial for effective management of coral reefs. Learn more.

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