Effective indicators for freshwater management: attributes and frameworks for development

Effective indicators for freshwater management: attributes and frameworks for development Prepared for Aqualinc Research for the MSI Wheel of Water Project. Landcare Research Contract Report LC995, Lincoln, New Zealand

ABSTRACT: Indicators quantify and simplify phenomena, and help us understand and make sense of complex realities. However, their greatest strength is in aiding management. To be useful, indicators must be embedded in a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system that is seen as an integral component of a the wider management and decision making system. This 2012 report by Will Allen, Andrew Fenemor and David Wood outlines key steps for indicator-based reporting. These include include involving the right people, and clarifying with them the purpose, scope and scale of the management system under consideration. Developing a conceptual framework and models is crucial to to both aid shared understanding and to identify what needs to be evaluated. Within natural resource mangement these tend to either be programme-outcome-based or driver/pressure-based. Irrespective of which framework is chosen the report notes that it will still be important to provide three sets of supporting information to underpin the utility and transparency of the subsequent models: i) scoping and planning; ii) well-documented underpinning assumptions; and iii) internal and external factors that influence outcomes. Attention is also paid to indicator characteristics, and the capacities and systems required to support collaborative adaptive management.

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