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The Challenge of Collecting and Using Environmental Monitoring Data

Eric Biber, University of California, Berkeley

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06117-180468

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Abstract

The monitoring of ambient environmental conditions is essential to environmental management and regulation. However, effective monitoring is subject to a range of institutional, political, and legal constraints, constraints that are a product of the need for monitoring to be continuous, long lived, and well matched to the resources being studied. Political pressure or myopia, conflicting agency goals, the need for institutional autonomy, or a reluctance of agency scientists to pursue monitoring all may make it difficult for ambient monitoring to be effectively undertaken. Even if effective monitoring data is gathered, it may not be used in decision making. The inevitable residual uncertainty in monitoring data allows stakeholders to contest the use of monitoring in decision making. Structural solutions, e.g., the creation of agencies to conduct monitoring separate from management or regulation and prompt use of that data in decision making, may be the most promising solutions.

Key words

environmental law; monitoring; uncertainty
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087