Monitoring plan

How to maintain a consistent metric for the integrity of an intact ecosystem

The ISBM is unique in that project data for crediting is, in and of itself, proof of monitoring, reporting, and verification. In this context, annual crediting and monitoring are the same activity.

It should be noted that the unpredictability of animal tracking frequently leads to lapses in data collection. Because this is a results-only methodology, IP and LC groups can work as frequently or infrequently as they wish to. Although we caution that projects that begin with a large amount of observations, then taper off might be viewed with suspicion by an IEP.

It is recommended that projects plan a simple, but sustainable monitoring plan that can be consistently conducted throughout the year, with a budget that accounts for equipment failures. It is better to have consistent sightings in a small area, than lots of sightings that taper off throughout the year.

BCPs should collect data from as many qualifying indicator species as possible. To standardize and scale operations they must select a minimum of 3 species from 2 different kingdoms for ongoing monitoring.

We strongly suggest the use of pilot data in designing a monitoring plan as rapid iteration in the initial phases of a project are both desirable and encouraged. When selecting indicator species for ongoing monitoring please consider the following:

  • Clear link to biodiversity objectives: Choose indicator species that have clear links to stated BCP activities. Ideally, the relationship between indicators and project objectives should be demonstrated by documentation of scientific literature.

  • Multiple indicator species: Natural systems are extremely complex, and even variables that are carefully chosen to reflect conservation may sometimes fluctuate for reasons unrelated to the project. While technically even one indicator species is enough to implement the methodology, monitoring only a few species may increase the risk of failing to document actual biodiversity. Although there is no single ideal number of indicator species to be monitored, each project should manage a balance between choosing too few indicator species and too many.

  • Monitoring: This methodology encourages BCPs to select some indicator species that are not too expensive to monitor, that can be easily monitored by members of the IP and LCs, and that are not dependent on outside experts or equipment. But the inclusion of rare species that are difficult to find provides a more comprehensive view of the ecosystem and should be considered.

Table 6. Example of simple monitoring plan

TimeframeIndicator speciesData collection methodMonitoring frequency

Year 1-5


Cell phones

Two months



Year 6-10


Camera trap + cell phones

Two months

Earth ranger database


Year 11-15


Camera trap, cell phones, audio recording

Two months

Private database connected to Earth ranger


Year 15-30


Camera trap, cell phones, audio recording, and selectively tagged animals


Private database connected to Earth ranger


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