Environmental Monitoring in Sweden
Environmental Monitoring and Supervision Department
The Swedish National Environmental Monitoring Programme (PMK) was started in 1978by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. Its main purpose was to monitor long-term and large-scale changes in the environment and thus identify problems which called for research or counter-measures. Common variables were concentrations of chemical substances in air, water or living organisms. In the early 1980s the programme was extended to include the monitoring of biological effects primarily in reference areas. In 1990, the PMK was reviewed in order to develop a new co-ordinated monitoring programme to improve the assessment of information for regional, national and international use. The implementation of the new national programme started in 1993.
In order to provide sufficient information about the regional state of the environment as a basis for regional and local planning, uniform regional monitoring programmes, co-ordinated and harmonised with the national programme, have also been developed and are gradually being established in each county.
LINKS TO DECISION-MAKING
The state of the environment is the decisive point of departure for proposals on environmental measures and political decisions related to the environment. Effective and appropriate environmental monitoring provides a basis for relevant descriptions of the state of the environment. On a higher level, these descriptions provide the factual basis for political consideration of the environment in various organs and among citizens and their organisations. In this way, conflicts between environmental goals can be highlighted; alternative actions can be clarified; and well-founded decisions can be taken. For those who put measures into effect, descriptions of the state of the environment provide a basis for cost-effective programmes of actions within different sectors. Environmental monitoring thus becomes one of the fundamental strategic instruments for environmental work within the environmental and sector agencies, industry and in international negotiations.
Environmental work is becoming increasingly goal-oriented, and the demands that environmental authorities be able to document and follow up the environmental results of measures taken are increasing. An environmental monitoring system is an important instrument for following up environmental work as regards stated goals, both within the environmental control authorities and within the areas of environmental responsibility of various sectors.
The general goals for the Swedish environmental monitoring are to:
- follow and describe the state of the environment. Follow changes in the state of the environment and demonstrate anthropogenic influence.
- evaluate environmental threats. Provide a basis for the identification and evaluation of environmental problems on all scales, from local to global scale.
- analyse environmental effects of anthropogenic sources of pollution. This implies clarification of the impact from different sectors on environmental effects, including international contribution.
- provide a basis for measures. Monitoring results is one of the factual bases for the formulating of environmental goals for the society's development and for the establishing of priorities and decisions on measures.
- follow up implemented measures. To check if the state of the environment has improved as a result of implemented measures.
Strictly defined, e.g. as repeated measurements/observations in the environment, monitoring is only one step in the process needed to attain these goals. This means that we have to optimise the different steps shown below.
Designing a sampling programme for environmental monitoring means tailoring the programme for the purpose of monitoring, that is, with consideration of how and for what purpose the results will be used. The environmental monitoring system is an integrated part of environmental work. The priorities for environmental work determine the needs for basic knowledge concerning the state of the environment, environmental threats, action, follow-up, and analysis of theeffects on the environment of various activities and discharge sources.
At the same time, environmental monitoring has a dynamic role, as it provides a basis for the formulation of new measures and environmental goals. The environmental monitoring system must therefore be formulated in a dialogue between the party that requests the monitoring and the party that executes it in order to ensure both quality and an orientation towards and prioritising of the questions to which the system is intended to give answers.
Environmental monitoring is a long-term activity by its very nature and we have a responsibility towards environmental work in the future to guarantee useful data series. Only long time series with high quality provides a basis for reliable analyses of trends in environmental status and effects where random or periodic trends can be taken into account. Therefore, the framework for an environmental monitoring system should provide long, unbroken data series with a regular frequency from fixed sites or areas, and data collection must be given the necessary continuity and stability.
At the same time, it is important to have the capability for flexible adaptation to new, unpredictable and often temporary demands on environmental work. Examples of demands of this nature, which can suddenly appear are:
- serious environmental threats, either natural or anthropogenic, whose consequences must be registered;
- temporary demands for knowledge due to new research results, new environmental measures, etc.
Many important environmental factors are variable not only in time. They also show a quite strong and high-resolution spatial variation. Mapping this spatial variation and following this variation of patterns across time provides not only important information for describing the state of the environment, but also gives basic information on processes and mechanisms which are necessary for a deeper analysis of causes. For reasons of cost, an extensive programme can probably never have high resolution in time. An extensive areal programme should therefore be combined with an intensive programme with a few selected representative stations where sampling is more frequent.
The possibility for environmental monitoring to function as an early-warning system depends on the definition of early warning as exemplified by the following alternatives:
- Warning of known environmental threats appearing in new places. This will partly be possible by intensive monitoring programmes that can indicate whether threshold values for environmental threats are being exceeded. Combined with extensive programmes that provide the basis for prognoses concerning regional spreading.
- The discovery of new, previously unknown environmental threats. An environmental monitoring system that is designed according to this basic principle should measure, preferably at many sites, many different physiological parameters, chemical substances (in many different objects), foreign species, etc., and human activities, and carefully follow their (unknown) effects by studying many different organisms. This is often impossible for reasons of cost and lack of knowledge. By designing an environmental monitoring system that guarantees stable data series with a known quality and where the data is accessible, future analyses of new environmental threats can be facilitated.
Environmental monitoring -
Even if close co-operation between research and environmental monitoring is a necessity, it is still important to see them as two different activities depending on the primary data users and their questions in focus and the need of rapid accessibility to the results. The environmental monitoring system is greatly dependent on research for identification of the object to be monitored (new environmental problems), for development of better sampling systems and models, and for analysis and evaluation of data. Research can benefit from the long-termseries and other data that environmental monitoring generates, partly as a direct object for analysis, partly as background data for interpretation of, for example, field experiments.
ORGANIZATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING IN SWEDEN
The new co-ordinated monitoring system is divided into a national programme and 24 regional programmes, one in each county, partly funded by the state.
On a regional level, there are additional monitoring activities, with contribution from county councils, municipalities, industries, etc. These monitoring activities are co-ordinated and harmonised by guidelines down to the method level. The Monitoring Board, nominated by the government and connected to SEPA, is the policy-making body. The Monitoring Board consists of representatives from regional and local authorities and sector agencies. SEPA has the responsibility for the co-ordination, planning, administration and reporting of results in relation to the national programme. On the regional and local levels, the County Administrative Boards and the municipalities have the environmental responsibility. In addition to these co-ordinated monitoring programmes, there are also other monitoring activities (run by sector agencies, research institutes, etc.).
The main components of the co-ordinated monitoring system are:
- national programmes
- regional programmes
- data hosts
The intention is that the central co-ordination of the monitoring activities will primarily be regulated by:
- General guidelines with recommendations on the design of monitoring programmes, types of investigations that give predetermined sets of variables and stipulate methods to be used for sampling and analysis;
- Common development of environmental models.
- Research programmes to develop rules for risk assessment routines and indicators;
- Quality assurance policy and corresponding quality plans;
- Common conceptual models to generate common data structure/data models;
- Common data exchange formats.
To ensure the best possible cost-effectiveness, the execution of the monitoring programmes is offered (exposed) to the open market. The national monitoring programmes, administrated by SEPA, are performed by contracted university institutions or well-equipped and established consultants. The contracts are on a one-year basis. The programmes should be carried out according to pre-set investigation types given in the monitoring guidelines laid down by SEPA. The same guidelines are to be followed by the County Administrative Boards on the regional level and hopefully, in the future, also by the municipalities on the local level.
On the regional level, decisions are taken on:
- The programmes and investigation types which are relevant according to the dominating environmental problems in the region;
- Number and, to some extent also, sites of stations. The results are presented in many different ways. They are used in annual reports concerning the state of the environment (e.g. SEPA, governments report to parliament, environmental statistics, international conventions) as well as in more thorough thematic overviews of different environmental problems.
Regional data is needed for regional strategic assessments and plans for subsequent measures made every third year.
The contractors are obliged to:
- Give annual reports on the results;
- Participate and present the results at seminars;
- Inform the authorities immediately if unforeseen environmental events occur;
- Deliver data in time to so-called "data hosts";
- Take part in developing new monitoring methods;
- Give expert advice in connection with international conventions;
- Participate in intercalibrations;
- Be authorised for sampling and analysis in relevant fields.
MAJOR PROGRAMME AREAS
The monitoring system is structured in the following programme areas:
- Marine environment
- Lakes and watercourses
- Ground water
- Forested areas
- Agricultural areas
- Mountain areas (not managed land)
- Human health and urban areas
- Landscape (content not yet decided)
If environmental monitoring is to be a strategic instrument for environmental work and serve as a basis for political decisions on the environment, good quality data is necessary. Quality here implies substantially more than the traditional quality aspects considered during sampling and analysis. The quality policy of the environmental monitoring system states that the result should be characterised by:
- the monitoring that is conducted should be relevant and cost-effective for the questions that it intends to address.
- the programme should be designed with consideration to its long-term existence, that is, the activity should produce data series with sufficient length and coverage;
- the task of determining the right level of data quality should be given the highest priority when the programme is designed;
- data loss should be kept to a minimum.
- the results should be well-documented and the information should reach the user according to a plan agreed on beforehand;
- the results should be comparable, that is, it should be possible to use the results when posing new questions, and compare them with results of other investigations with corresponding variables.
Quality control is achieved by managing the programme according to a special "quality control" plan.
The main users of data from environmental monitoring are the government and the different authorities on national, regional and local levels. Data is also requested by research institutes, mass media, schools and an interested general public. On the national level, the most frequent users are the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and other environmentally responsible sector agencies. On the regional and local level, the County Administrative Boards and municipalities have the environmental responsibility. The information has to be well-defined and easily available so that anyone can understand and use the results to the desired extent. In Sweden all monitoring data, produced at governmental authorities and institutions, is by law open to the public (official).
The environmental monitoring in Sweden consists of real measurements in the environment and of model and scenario calculations. The data collection and data flow are controlled by agreements (contracts) between the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (or County Administrative Boards on the regional level) and the respective contractors (institutions and consultants) and so-called data hosts.
Because of differences in region, specialist fields and costs, a large number of different contractors are involved in the data collection. As a compromise between the policy to store the data near the data collector and to facilitate the use of data, data hosts are established. All data within a certain specialist field is gathered at one data host with the main task of making the information easily available. Annex 1 gives an overview of activities at a data host.
About ten data hosts are planned, preferably connected to the major programme areas, although there may be more than one data host in some areas (one for physical and chemical data and one for biological data).
Comparability between data produced at different places by different people is achieved by using a common conceptual model, standardised by strict definitions, and a programme for quality assurance. A number of methods, which are approved for use in sampling, analysis and so on, are specified for each programme.
A smooth exchange of data requires a common data model and common exchange formats. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for the development of these. The contracts stipulate data structure (data model), exchange formats, routine deliveries of data and costs.
Today, the exchange of data between different databases is done via floppy discs or tapes. For the future, we are considering an on-line connection between the Environmental Protection Agency, the County Administrative Boards and the Data Hosts. In an optimum system, it should be possible to actually work simultaneously in the different databases that contain results from environmental monitoring. This requires a common database structure and better technical solutions for communication. Development of a database, based on the common data model, is in progress at the Environmental Protection Agency.
In order to decide what exchange format should be used as a common standard, several formats are under discussion. High standardisation and comparability with Europe is desirable. The following exchange formats are being considered:
- KRUT (Exchange format used in the Swedish database for emission data)
- NEDEX (Nordic developed exchange format)
- SCB's (the exchange format used by Statistics Sweden)
A reference system (meta database), containing all data sets that are produced by national (and in the future also regional) environmental monitoring, is under construction. The system will contain information on:
- programmes (objectives, who is responsible, who does the measurements and where is the data stored);
- variables (where, when and for how long, reference to method);
- stations (co-ordinates, name, etc.).
The system should be equipped with GIS facilities. It will not contain specific data (measured on calculated data valuer).
EFFECTIVENESS BY CO-ORDINATION
AND USE OF NEW TECHNOLOGY
There is always a need to search for new ways to rationalise the operational structure of the monitoring activities to get better and more goal-oriented results or achieve more complete areal coverage at a minimal cost but of the desired quality.
The need for basic information
The importance of the availability of basic data cannot be stressed enough. It is essential to assure the best scientific interpretation of the gathered monitoring results. Often, different authorities are responsible for the sampling and storage of basic data needed in the evaluation process. In Sweden, this is the case for the oceanographic, meteorological (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute) and geological (Geological Survey of Sweden) fields. Good digital maps are also of central importance for rational data interpretation and evaluation, and such maps are preferably made by the central office of the National Land Survey. At all these authorities, data sampling is partly done on a commercial base and the environmental authorities pay quite large sums to be able to use the data. There is a need to review and specify both the governments' instructions to the authorities and the basic rules on how to calculate the costs of accessing the data, partly gathered by public means. As the sectors have the environmental responsibility for activities in their sector, they also gather environmental information that could be useful with regard to other more comprehensive evaluations and risk assessments. Their authorities and organisations are also responsible for certain environmental aspects of planning, inspection or control of environmental matters - work that also produces environmental data. Of current interest here are the National Road Administration, the Road Safety Office, the Administration of Shipping and Navigation, the Board of Civil Aviation, the Board for Industrial and Technical Development, the Board of Forestry and the Board of Agriculture, all of which have to take environmental considerations into account in their work. Today most of this data is open to the public and free of charge, but clarification is needed concerning what data should be gathered to fulfil the task of sectorial environmental responsibility, and clear specifications must be worked out. This is becoming even more important in the light of several authorities being privatised at the moment, which entails changes of the rules for data availability.
Emissions and discharges
In Sweden, regional and local authorities have the responsibility for environmental supervision of industrial facilities. According to the regulations and given prescriptions, facilities report their emissions and discharges to air and waters to regional or local authorities. To facilitate the work, these authorities maintain emission registers where the data is stored by agreed data exchange formats. Several regional and local authorities have a database for air emissions (EDB AIR). For calculating the environmental load per area unit (50 x 50 km) of different substances, the database needs access to data on weather conditions, land use, traffic density, agricultural activities (stocks of cattle) and air emissions for the major facilities. The emissions from minor facilities are calculated with the help of emission coefficients.
A corresponding database is also developed for water discharges. It is based on drainage basins, water flows, land use, leakage coefficients for different types of land management and reported discharges to water. The load on specified water recipients can then be calculated using this database.
Co-ordination of stations
There are, in principle, three conditions that determine the density of sampling sites, the arrangement of sites and the sampling frequency:
- the degree of urgency, including the demand for precision;
- the statistic and deterministic structure of environmental variables in time and space;
- access to data on the control variables (such as weather data, water flow, etc.)-
When new programmes are to be implemented, it should be an obligation and natural procedure to examine whether some already existing network can be used or extended in order to minimise costs. Mutual benefits could often be gained in:
- construction and installing sampling facilities;
- daily maintenance of stations and sampling equipment;
- maintenance of staff organisation.
As a cost-effective alternative to a comprehensive sampling programme, model calculations can be considered. A disadvantage with models is that they often are expensive to develop. They also need continuously measured values from reference sites to verify the calculations. On the other hand, models are often necessary for example for calculating loads and for making prognoses.
The use of satellite images in environmental monitoring will probably be very cost-effective within certain fields in the near future. Therefore we consider the development of the technology for operational use to be important. The best adapted applications for remote sensing are probably:
- recurrent areal mapping. To follow large and medium- scale changes in, for example, the extent of different vegetation and landscape types and various types of land use;
- inventories with the goal of identifying objects for follow-up studies (or actions) by other means;
- monitoring for early discovery of different episodes with rapid time lapse. These can be oil discharges, algal blooms, illegal land use, etc.
The goal is to act as an early-warning system, in order to take measures, including possible additional monitoring activities;
- evaluation of the extent of environmental effects, that is, studies focused on following up a certain threat or effect, for example forest damage.
A Data Host is to:
- have great professional expertise in its field, and be closely connected to the collection of monitoring data.
- belong to a relatively "stable" organisation. - store monitoring data on data media and see to it that data is easily available.
- produce "new" data by certain specified calculations.
- deliver data according to specifications in agreements (the contract with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency or County Administrative Boards).
- quickly provide data to other users (approx. within two weeks) and at a low price (specified in the contract with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency).
- give data selection advice to users.
- give advice and guidance to performers considering data reporting.
- have resources to give guidance to governmental authorities concerning relevance and accuracy of different methods for sampling and analysis.
- report data according to the data structure determined by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
- follow and participate in the quality assurance programmes and perform certain data quality controls.
- Perform quality controls, for instance to assure that:
- used methods are reported in connection with reported values.
- approved methods have been used.
- reported stations are in agreement with previous co-ordinates or updated.
- codes are reported in accordance with permitted or/and recommended lists.
- all variables according to programme specification are reported.
- reported dates and times are correct.
- reports are completed on time.
- information about the supplying institution/consultant is correct.
- perform agreed tests with comparable data sets from different sources, investigate, classify and register out-liers according to reason.
- be responsible for data security (update database documentation, control functions for different user privileges, back-up routines, etc.).
- form an opinion about relevant sampling and methods of analysis and provide advice and guidance when new methods are developed.
- provide guidance and assist in requested training programmes with respect to methods of sampling and analysis.
Some Experiences and Examples from a Canadian Review:
STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS
Ecozone Analysis Branch State of the Environment Directorate
1. Overview -What we started with!
- Large country, diverse ecosystems and varied environmental issues.
- Expanding requirements for more comprehensive environmental, social, and economic information.
- Organizations under increasing financial constraints.
- Responsibilities for monitoring under different national and regional organizations, and under many jurisdictions.
- Poor knowledge of overall existing monitoring networks.
- Data from different sources are difficult to access.
- Data standards and quality control are largely lacking.
- Networks are biased to selected environmental components and areas, and have too short term records.
- Networks have been designed on a "react and cure" basis more than on an "anticipate and prevent" basis.
- Demands for a stronger ecosystem approach to monitoring.
- Monitoring-science-research linkages are weak.
- Knowledge of ecosystem structure, function and processes is weak.
- There is a weak basis to develop environmental / ecological indicators.
Overview strategies and actions -What we concluded!
Four initiatives to improve integration, cooperation and ecosystem approaches were proposed.
They were the most practical solutions considering needs and fiscal constraints:
1. Ecological Monitoring Reference
Sites and Frameworks
- to improve the science behind monitoring networks and to better integrate research and ecosystem knowledge into monitoring.
2. Integrated Network Evaluation & Planning
- to permit strategic cooperation in the planning and operations of monitoring networks, and to provide a means to promote collaboration amongst services and other partners.
3. Information Integration & Access
- to improve awareness, analysis and assessments of issues/concerns by sharing, integrating and accessing information.
4. Training & Development
- to equip managers and professionals with tools to implement ecosystem approaches and inter-service teams.
The rapid and uncoordinated implementation of these initiatives could be counter-productive. The existing monitoring organizations have a strong legacy and valuable capabilities. These strengths need to be built upon to introduce changes. To most effectively act on the four points listed above will greatly depend on sharing information and expertise.
For each point, a number of recommendations were made. They are as follows:
(i) Development and Implementation of Ecological Reference Sites and Frameworks
The Department of the Environment(DOE) should initiate and co-lead a national initiative to build an ecological monitoring capacity. This would involve greater integration of existing monitoring networks as well as the use of ecological monitoring/research sites. It would involve having an ecological framework, selecting representative parts of large ecosystems for study, negotiating cooperative approaches to intensive monitoring and developing partnerships to encourage science activities.
The regional to national ecosystem context needs to be established as a common reporting context. The use of ecoregions, ecozones, etc. are needed to provide different groups/users with a framework that is suitable to understand and measure sustainable developments goals. Those ecoregions/ecozones must be broadly defined biophysical units and not units defined on some biased element (e.g. vegetation alone, climate alone). Research needs to be better integrated with monitoring activities. Monitoring networks need to become more versatile and relevant to the widening range of ecosystem concerns/issues.
(ii) Integrated Network Evaluation & Planning (INP)
(A) New or revised monitoring programs have the potential to act as "agents of change" to existing national and regional monitoring activities. Newer programs and ideas can introduce innovative ecosystem and cooperative approaches required for today's more complex issues. Another benefit would be the development of more extensive and comprehensive partnership arrangements in collecting, sharing, integrating and assessing information. (B) About 33% of DOE's monitoring and assessment resources are used for actual data collection. A number of possible improvements were considered for data collection.
DOE should establish, immediately, INP teams for selecting and developing plans. This should include joint agency efforts to coordinate yearly operational plans as well as long term strategic plans.
The planning aspects should cover factors such as cost sharing, work sharing, expertise interchange and joint use of facilities and support staff. These federal-provincial teams should operate within the regional management structure as well as within a national coordination committee. Significant opportunities for co-location of monitoring sites and reorientation of monitoring programs exist. This is not just restricted to the Department of the Environment but must include linkages to other federal and provincial/regional partners. Co-location could reduce operational costs and would improve information value; reorientation would provide opportunities for being increasingly cost-effective in the future. Within the main Services (Atmospheric Service, Canadian Wildlife Service,
Environmental Protection Service) of the Department of the Environment (DOE), a limited number of the co-location opportunities have already been implemented or are being pursued now (e.g. water quality and quantity stations being integrated in similar locations or support staff are servicing the two different networks). However, very few examples exist of systematic inter-service (the Atmospheric Environment Service and the Environmental Conservation Service) co-location other than in few data collection platform initiatives (areas where instruments from several Services are co-located).
Reorientation is important for making ongoing programs more responsive to specific issues and to ecosystem level management concerns. Reorientation happens when monitoring stations are deemed to be of marginal importance in their present location or alternatively in the sense of what type of data they are collecting. Reorientation may involve moving the site of a station and/or it may involve adding or deleting data measurements. The above benefits can be optimized through a systematic inter-service management process which (1) ensures a cross-sectoral analysis of needs, issues and priorities; (2) evaluates network effectiveness and (3) carries out a site- by-site analysis and plans adjustments. This management process is referred to as INTEGRATED NETWORK EVALUATION AND PLANNING
A systematic review of existing data collection networks should be carried out across DOE's programs. The review should also include the major networks sponsored or run by provincial and federal partners. The review could constitute the basis for joint work plan development. The review should be carried out both nationally and regionally. The approach should be developed by an inter-service team and its effectiveness tested in pilot studies. An independent consultant should carry out a systematic review of the integration and cost-saving potential of all major DOE monitoring networks.
These initiatives should be supported by a comprehensive Geographic Information Systems database. It should provide information on all (federal and provincial) networks such as: the location of sites, parameters measured, methodologies, clients, present and current stations, ecosystem maps, administration units, etc. The DOE part of this data base is already being built.
(iii) Information Integration & Access
(A) A major thrust of many environmental programs is "better information for purposes of awareness, analysis and assessments. If this is achieved, then better decision-making is a likelihood. Greater accessibility to information is generally a prerequisite to better decisions for not just environmental planning but for the development and improvements of monitoring networks. Without the abilities to share and integrate data, interdisciplinary interpretation of data, information exchange amongst professionals and involvement of a wide range of interest groups are not effective. The lack of standards for information exchange and integration does seriously hamper the meaningful integration of data. Standards for work sharing, quality control and information exchange should be established.
DOE should establish immediately an Information Integration & Access team to develop standards for information exchange and integration, and work sharing. The team should implement an inter-service monitoring and assessment information access network.
(B) Data management and data systems form a major component (24%) of the monitoring and assessment envelope. While Atmospheric Environment Service (AES) has the strongest capability in this area, other services (Environmental Conservation Service, State of the Environment Service), in particular have some unique capabilities which can be shared. Cooperation has existed over the years in obtaining and providing services, but significantly more benefits can be obtained from systematically planned cooperation at both the national and the regional level. Benefits include: improved integration of data; sharing capital acquisitions, expertise, common standards for contracting-out, improved access.
(C)Interpretation of data from monitoring programs is a key component in servicing client needs. About 28% of DOE Monitoring and Assessment (M&A) resources are allocated to the assessment function.
Most interpretation and services are provided on a sectoral basis. Integrated ecosystem analysis is relatively rare and restricted to specialized programs and projects.
Many reviews have recommended greater use of universities, private environmental organizations, consulting firms and, indeed, the public. This could increase opportunities for cost-recovery and revenue generation efforts. The private sector involvement would be particularly appropriate in the interpretation, integration and marketing of information. Integrated interpretation is greatly enhanced by specific Science and Technology (S&T) tools such as geographic information systems, modeling, expert systems. Informal user groups have been established in DOE to facilitate the exchange and application of these technologies.
Development of a DOE-wide strategy which encourages the use of other groups to fill strategic gaps in assessment programs, and improves cost-recovery and revenue generation. Establish a formal coordinated initiative of GIS user groups across DOE to accelerate the use of integration technology tools (GIS, AI).
Overview of expected results
-What we hoped to achieve!
The proposals presented have the potential of creating significant change, improving efficiency, and increasing responsiveness and impact of existing monitoring programs. Each initiative deals with a strategic element of monitoring and assessment activities. These proposals equally reinforce DOE's capacity to work effectively as a department, to achieve sustainable development goals, to exercise leadership and to efficiently work with other organizations.
Implementation requires inter-service cooperation particularly at regional levels. The most effective way to implement the proposed initiatives/recommendations is by:
(1) Assigning leads to specific services/regions - to ensure clear accountability and to focus on results.
(2) Using Management Contracts to set targets related to improved cooperation and to acknowledge roles and contributions.
- Development of cooperative strategic and operational plans;
- Improved operation of monitoring networks at national and regional levels;
- Improved response to priority issues;
- Improved ecosystem approach and framework;
- Improved integration of science and a better early warning and forecasting capability;
- Development and introduction of new indicators;
- Leaner and more effective data management;
- Improved integration of data and strategic information;
- Standards for cross-sectoral data exchange, quality assurance and contracting; and
- Better access to information for decision-makers/ managers. Synopsis of Canadian Monitoring Networks
EXISTING SITUATION SIGNIFICANCE FOR
Few Long-term Records Need for Long-term Perspective Uneven Distribution of Nation Wide Interests Sampling Stations
Predominance of Physical Ecosystem Range of Measures Measures Required
Limited Integration of Data Environmental/ Social/ Economic Range of Data Needed
Expanding Demands Shrinking Resources Base Limited Agency Expertise Multi-stakeholder Assessments
"PROBLEMS ARE TASKS OUT OF PERSPECTIVE"
2. MONITORING IN CANADA:
Canadian Setting (Background)
Canada is a large country (i.e. 9,970,000 square kms). It is ecologically diverse having 15 major terrestrial ecosystems and 5 major marine ecosystems. Over 45 percent of the terrestrial ecosystems are forested, 24 percent are arctic, and lesser amounts are associated with agro-ecosystems, large wetlands and freshwater areas. The marine ecosystems cover large portions of the Arctic Ocean as well as parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
These ecosystems themselves and their environmental components have been highly valued resources. Since Canada's early beginning, they have collectively been a key to Canada's economic and social well-being.
While Canada is a large country, its population is relatively low - about 27,000,000. The majority of the people live in urban communities, most of which are located in the southern quarter of the country.
The types of economically significant resources and the location of major population centres have been major factors influencing the development of environmental monitoring networks in Canada. Historically, a special emphasis was initially placed on monitoring commodities such as the number of fish, the number of trees, the quantity of water, and the number of ducks. This was often done in parallel with other inventories that looked at the productivity side related to these resources. For example, land capability inventories were conducted to determine how productive each area of the country was for forestry, waterfowl and agriculture. Areas were ranked on a scale of 1 (highly productive) to 7 (non-productive). As resources and ecosystems became more extensively used, some of the monitoring activities shifted to an environmental pollution and control focus. This was particularly so around the more populated and industrial areas of the country where raw materials were processed into more finished goods . Today, the fundamental questions being asked about monitoring networks have gone beyond a commodity and a pollution focus. The concerns are more centered on how well we can understand basic ecosystem functions and processes; how the environment and economy work most effectively; and how we best can assess the sustainable use of ecosystems and their resources. There is a basic need to think, plan and act in terms of ecosystems.
Roles and Responsibilities
In Canada, there is no one single agency of government which is responsible for environmental monitoring and very few mechanisms to foster an ecological level of monitoring. The federal government, provincial/territorial governments, private industry, and public environmental groups share a role monitoring activities. Even at the federal level, there is no singular department with overall monitoring responsibilities. The federal Department of the Environment (DOE) mainly monitors air, water and waterfowl resources, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans monitors fish and marine waters, Forestry Canada monitors timber resources and forest species, the Department of Agriculture monitors soils and agricultural crops, and so on. At the provincial level, there is a similar dispersion of monitoring activities across many different groups.
3. MONITORING REQUIREMENTS
The Federal Department of the Environment (DOE) in Canada has conducted numerous reviews of monitoring activities. Most of theses reviews have concentrated on selected types of monitoring networks, selected environmental components and selected groups of users. Specific reviews, for example, of the national water quantity network or of the national weather monitoring network have been periodically conducted. It has been less common at the federal level or even at the provincial/territorial levels, however, to examine the broader perspective of the overall needs of environmental monitoring. Even a more consolidated approach to environmental monitoring is not thought to be adequate. Socio-economic monitoring must also be linked as this type of data is increasingly being used as a companion information source in resolving current issues. Evolving Needs The 1990s promise to be a decade of major transitions- in policies on environment and economic development and in cooperative activities. Nations and organizations are evolving from management goals based largely on resource management and environmental protection to management goals based on sustainable development or eco-development goals. Managers and professionals responsible for decision-making require an outlook which is broader; a perspective which no longer separates socio-economic issues from environmental issues; and a vision which no longer separates ourselves from ecosystems. Informed decision-making increasingly arises from research, predictive models and often simply from past experiences. The fundamental basis for this more scientific approach for assessments and for state of the environment reporting comes mainly from the data derived from systematic long-term monitoring. The movement in the 1990s towards more sustainable forms of development and towards addressing local and global scale issues, places increasing demands upon the strategic design and output of monitoring systems.
4. REVIEW OF MONITORING
NETWORKS AND CAPABILITIES
The large cost of ongoing monitoring programs clearly justifies management attention to their organization and operation. This need is reinforced by long-standing concerns about the co-ordination and responsiveness of the programs to client needs and their ability to support environmental issue management. Most recently, state of the environment reporting and the need to achieve sustainable development have significantly increased emphasis on integrated resource management, multi-disciplinary science and data interpretation. Improved co-ordination and integration of environmental monitoring programs, both within and external to DOE, is critical to success in responding to these pressures. Finally, the growing recognition that a significant expansion of comprehensive monitoring of ecosystems is required to address complex issues such as climate change and biodiversity has imposed new demands for monitoring and research efforts. In sum, the argument is overwhelming for increased corporate emphasis on the overall management of environmental monitoring and related research programs.
Orientation of Review
DOE's most recent review of monitoring activities did not emphasize high technology nor did it proceed on a vigorous statistical route. Rather, an emphasis was placed on low cost, and immediate and practical solutions.
There were two main factors behind the Department's most recent review of monitoring activities. One factor was largely aligned with financial considerations. Monitoring over large areas is a costly enterprise shared among many groups and organizations. How efficient was the department in using its human resources, its money and its infrastructure/facilities?
The second factor was largely focused on environmental management objectives. The 1990s have caused most agencies to adopt a more integrative and ecological approach to environmental management and decision-making. How effective were current monitoring activities in responding to the newer management objectives (e.g. sustainable development, sustainable resource use, long-term carrying capacity)?
Monitoring and the accompanying assessment activities form a vital component of the Department's formal mandate. While the Department is not responsible for all forms of operational environmental monitoring in the country, the public, industry and other levels of government expect DOE to show leadership in setting directions. The information gained from DOE's networks and from other monitoring networks provides the information which is essential for the delivery of its programs and for the measurement of successes/failures. Recognizing these facts, the most recent monitoring review set objectives based on a desire to:
- improve the effectiveness and efficiency of environmental monitoring and assessment programs by;
- reinforcing the use of ecosystem approaches, partnerships and new technologies; and
- by developing mechanisms for integration to ensure a co-ordinated and coherent management system.
Definition of Monitoring
Environmental monitoring includes all activities associated with the design of networks, the repetitive collection of biophysical data, the synthesis of data and the initial interpretation of data. In normal practice, environmental monitoring tends to really be a case of monitoring selected environmental components in isolation of other networks which do the same thing. Rarely is it a case of monitoring the whole environment or a range of environmental components.
The focus of ecological monitoring should be structured to address the larger picture. The key elements of the whole environment along with information on human activities should be included in an integrated network. This approach requires a stronger understanding of basic stress/exposure/response relationships, and the strategic merging of monitoring and research capabilities
Monitoring in either situation does not normally exist in isolation of assessment and evaluation activities. Assessments, evaluations and modeling are typically necessary to transform data into information.
Strategies and Sub-Studies
Three fundamental strategies for integration were used in this review:
- Ecosystem science
- Information technologies
- Cooperative planning
The utility of these strategies were examined in the context of eleven sub-studies. They were carried out by cross-service study teams.
(1) Needs and opportunities
(2) Long-term vision
CAPACITY & TOOLS
(3) Inventory of monitoring networks
(4) Management mechanisms
(5) Data management
(6) Geographic information systems
(7) Remote sensing
(8) Quality assurance and control
(9) Ecosystem frameworks
(10) Ecological science centres-ECOWATCH
(11) Obstacles to integration
Sub-studies under OBJECTIVES reinforced the fact that many organizations were involved in many of the same, current-day environmental issues and required similar types of data. It also further confirmed that the various organizations shared long-term visions about what they wanted to achieve and what was necessary to plan and orchestrate towards a different future.
To understand the present-day situation in monitoring and readjust over the short or long term is dependent upon knowing what the current CAPACITY is and what types of tools are available. Issues like biodiversity, climate change and forest sustainability require a great deal of integration amongst organizations. Paradoxically, the majority of monitoring networks, management mechanisms and data management procedures were put in place to serve fairly narrow defined sets of users and not a broad range of interest groups. Beyond just using management and information mechanisms to promote better integration, remote sensing and geographic information systems can be simple and effective tools.
Results of Monitoring
BETTER INFORMATION FOR:
1. INFORMED DECISION-MAKING FOR SUSTAINABILITY GOALS
2. ASSESSMENT OF COMPLEX ACTION PLANS
3. EARLY WARNING/EMERGING ECOSYSTEM LEVEL ISSUES
Traditional monitoring networks tend to portray what is happening and tend to restrict that data to a particular component element of the environment. Monitoring networks do a relatively poor job on telling why things happen nor do they effectively describe important processes and functions in an ecosystem sense. This lack of KNOWLEDGE remains a major weakness.
In developing strategies to overcome current problems, it is often easier to start with an assessment of the BARRIERS. Most people can readily identify obstacles more so than they can identify solutions.
5. Needs and Opportunities
To fully outline all of the issues and information requirements for environmentally sustainable development in Canada is not possible in this summary. But one key issue will serve as an illustration:
- "climate change induced by greenhouse gas increases"
The most demanding issue in terms of information requirements is probably that of climate change induced by increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. The natural science aspects of the issue demands monitoring of whole ecosystems. This includes the atmosphere, the hydrologic cycle, the oceans, ice and land and its physical, chemical and biological aspects. Another aspect of the climate issue, and of many other environmental issues, is its long-term nature. Monitoring commitments for decades or centuries are needed to determine long-term trends and to sort out variability from trends. This is to understand the natural science aspects of the issue.
The socio-economic aspects of the climate issue may be more complex in their data and information requirements. There are many sources of the forcing function in the climate equation, the greenhouse gases. Monitoring is required of energy consumption, especially the burning of fossil fuels; agricultural practices; the creation and loss of wetlands; forests - their use and regeneration; waste disposal sites; and the enormous range of socio-economic factors affecting them. Without such data it is impossible to devise appropriate greenhouse gas control strategies. Even more daunting may be the range of socio-economic information required for developing strategies to adapt to a warmer earth and higher sea level.
Some of the data needed for cross-sectoral issues such as climate change can be readily derived from the sectoral monitoring networks. To make use of these data for complex issues such as acid rain, toxic contaminants, biodiversity, climate change, requires that significant efforts in cross-sectoral analysis be mounted.
6. Long-Term Vision
Monitoring in Canada will be affected by at least two major transitions in the 1990s. Firstly, a shift towards sustainable development of regional ecosystems and a globalization of cooperative efforts on key environmental issues. Integrating monitoring activities within Canada and elsewhere on issues like acid rain has already proven very useful. Acid rain's impact was far-reaching, covering social, economic and environmental matters. It, thus, had effects on most parts of the ecosystem. When issues reach this magnitude or scope, it is beyond the capability of any single agency to resolve or understand the issue. The professional expertise, research capabilities and monitoring networks of various governments, universities and private groups must be used.
The Challenge: Today organizations need a different vision. The types of environmental issues, the importance of the environment to our basic well-being, and the difficulties in obtaining new or additional financial resources call for very different approaches to be planned. Organizations need to examine better short-term solutions to deal with issues of the 1990s. They also need to build a capacity to implement programs which will provide the indicators, and time series data, to forecast and prevent the problems of the 21st century.
1. ONGOING SECTORAL REQUIREMENTS
- Regular Requirement for Specialized Data Needs
2. NEWER ECOSYSTEM LEVEL ISSUES
TYPES OF ISSUES NEW REQUIREMENTS
ACID RAIN - Knowledge
CLIMATE CHANGE - Relationships
BIODIVERSITY - Integration
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT - Cumulative Impacts
LAND PLANNING - Long Term Focus
ACTION PLANS/MODEL FORESTS - Eco-Research
ETC. - Etc.
7. Existing Networks
For the nation as a whole, it was surprising how little was known about existing national or large area networks. There was a reasonable amount of information on individual types of networks but there was not a good summary on 'the overall network of monitoring networks'. A catalogue of networks and information bases was prepared. This listed responsible agencies, key contact people, an overview of what particular monitoring networks were attempting to do, what types of data were collected, the numbers of sampling points and many forms of descriptive data. While this information was very useful, it proved to be difficult in situations where organizations and professionals wanted to obtain a picture of the spatial distribution of the networks and their sampling sites.
Without having this tool, it was awkward to judge how well particular ecosystems were being monitored, whether there was much duplication between networks, if there were opportunities for collocating monitoring sites, what was known about specific areas, and so on. To overcome these shortcomings, a geographic information system was used to further consolidate the information on monitoring networks.
What did this information reveal? Table 1 and 2 provides a summary of selected items.
8. Barriers to Integration
Society and institutions, including DOE, have traditionally adopted a sectoral approach to managing the earth's resources and life support systems. This is reflected in the design and orientation of almost all of the monitoring and assessment activities in Canada and elsewhere. Moving forward to respond to sustainability questions and goals, requires that decision- makers be positioned with different skills and kinds of information. A capacity to apply an ecological approach is essential.
Through a series of regional/HQ workshops, a list of "barriers to integration and ecological approaches " was compiled aswell as possible responses to remove these barriers. Many barriers were identified. They are summarized and grouped in the table below. These barriers are not restricted to monitoring and assessment, but reflect opinions expressed by operational and research staff, and also capture some of the experiences with large area ecosystem studies which have been conducted in recent years.
The barriers identified in this exercise assisted the task force in identifying some of the most strategic weaknesses related to monitoring and assessment.
(1) mandates-integrated network planning
(2) management & people- attitudes/training/experience
(3) ecosystem knowledge and integrated assessments
(4) data access and information integration
These four form the main points that need to be considered in an action plan.
Thanks for valuable advice and material from members of the review team -Robert Helie and Jean Thie.
7. Existing Networks
For the nation as a whole, it was surprising how little was known about existing national or large area networks. There was a reasonable amount of information on individual types of networks but there was not a good summary on 'the overall network of monitoring networks'. A catalogue of networks and information bases was prepared. This listed responsible agencies, key contact people, an overview of what particular monitoring networks were attempting to do, what types of data were collected, the numbers of sampling points and many forms of descriptive data. While this information was very useful, it proved to be difficult in situations where organizations and professionals wanted to obtain a picture of the spatial distribution of the networks and their sampling sites. Without having this tool, it was awkward to judge how well particular ecosystems were being monitored, whether there was much duplication between networks, if there were opportunities for collocating monitoring sites, what was known about specific areas, and so on. To overcome these shortcomings, a geographic information system was used to further consolidate the information on monitoring networks.
What did this information reveal? Table 1 and 2 provides a summary of selected items.
8. Barriers to Integration
Society and institutions, including DOE, have traditionally adopted a sectoral approach to managing the earth's resources and life support systems. This is reflected in the design and orientation of almost all of the monitoring and assessment activities in Canada and elsewhere. Moving forward to respond to sustainability questions and goals, requires that decision- makers be positioned with different skills and kinds of information. A capacity to apply an ecological approach is essential. Through a series of regional/HQ workshops, a list of "barriers to integration and ecological approaches " was compiled as well as possible responses to remove these barriers. Many barriers were identified. They are summarized and grouped in the table below. These barriers are not restricted to monitoring and assessment, but reflect opinions expressed by operational and research staff, and also capture some of the experiences with large area ecosystem studies which have been conducted in recent years.
BARRIERS POSSIBLE RESPONSES
- sectoral orientation of department/agencies - difficult to change mandates; more effective and
- gaps in mandates and jurisdictional influence non-traditional partnerships, to fill gaps and cut
- jurisdictional complexity, constitutional realities cross-sectoral boundaries
- effective use of integrated program project planning
- reorganization, reorientation, creation of cross-sectoral programs
- lack of joint work planning - integrated, non-directorate/service planning
- problems with accountability and control of integrated - clear accountabilities assignments, management contracts program/project - long term commitment to initiatives, visible
- lack of clear commitment to integrated programs in strategic plans
- differing priorities between organizations - strong focus on strategic planning as a tool for integration.
- lack of team approach Integration will only work if there is a common need/interest
- organizational complexity between disciplines and organizational components
- lack of common vision reinforces sectoral structures - vision, mission statements
PEOPLE & CULTURE
- sectoral training and experience - mission, vision statements
- lack of ecosystem knowledge and frameworks - T&D re ecosystems approaches, management
- lack of proper incentives/ opportunities for mobility of partnerships
- attitudes, difficulty with team approaches - cross service, directorate assignments
- no rewards, incentives for doing the extra work, particularly for management taking risks for integrated projects - include team as a requirement in job descriptions
- rewards and encouragement of risk taking in the context of integrated team and partnerships
- lack of knowledge of ecosystems, - comprehensive ecosystem research their processes and functions - long-term commitment to strategic ecosystem monitoring
- lack of long-term observations - further development of an ecosystem framework for Canada
- lack of common ecosystem framework approach - integrated and strategic joint planning;
- organizational barriers between research, integrated network evaluation and planning monitoring, assessment - team approaches, assignments
- lack of ecosystem indicators - integrated teams on stress-exposure-response evaluations
- poor information on current networks - GIS information base on monitoring networks
- inadequate standards, quality assurance and control - development of standards
- lack of common protocols between disciplines - introduction of QA/QC early in project planning
- lack of integrated modeling/ expertise - increase effort related to integrated modeling
- lack of skills/tools for integrated data interpretation - Training & Development
- ineffective access of data and information - inter-service cooperation in data management,
- limited use of private sector capability sharing and access
- development of contracting out standards, specifications
The barriers identified in this exercise assisted the task force in identifying some of the most strategic weaknesses related to monitoring and assessment.
(1) mandates-integrated network planning
(2) management & people- attitudes/training/experience
(3) ecosystem knowledge and integrated assessments
(4) data access and information integration
At the outset, it is desirable to establish a clear set of goals
expectations for the Unified Monitoring Program.
Weave existing environmental monitoring activities into the new program. Seek ways to employ monitoring approaches at the ecosystem level where appropriate.
Recognize the differences in monitoring needs of individual local and regional units, and build into the program the flexibility to accommodate these differences.
Strive for a basic level of uniformity of standards in the monitoring program; however, recognizing that it may be necessary to move slowly in implementing these standards.
Develop a means of efficiently communicating information vertically and horizontally in the system.
Promote free and open sharing of monitoring information. In so doing, it may be desirable to develop an incentive system that encourages (rewards) the free exchange of data.
Consider utilization of the Swedish model in creation of ecological study centers.
Recognizing that government funding of monitoring efforts may be insufficient, it is suggested that new sources of funding be sought. These might include sources such as donor countries, United Nations agencies, private foundations, or even new taxes especially earmarked for environmental monitoring. Equally important is the need to ensure the effect ive and efficient use of all available funds, regardless of how large or how small.
In view of the fact that public support is vital to the success of an environmental program, it is necessary to develop a plan for maintaining good public relations. This includes establishing a means of communicating to the public the nature of the monitoring activities, why they are important and how they will make a difference. This activity also affords an opportunity to report successes of the monitoring program. Successful communications must be two-way, thus a mechanism for receiving input from (and reaction to) the public is also of great importance.
Since quality of information generated by monitoring programs can be only as good as the data that is fed into them, data quality must be a primary concern. Early implementation of data quality control and quality assurance plans is an absolute requirement.
Structure the monitoring program recognizing the importance of integrating it into the international community.
Where possible, utilize modeling work to reduce the intensity of site measurement activities. For example, Holland has demonstrated the use of mathematical models to optimize monitoring results in ways that produced increased data quality while reducing the overall costs.
Planning and coordinating activities should include representation from a broad range of government and non-government organizations.
Set up an international working group which can serve in an advisory capacity and can assist in providing experts needed to participate in activities such as the offering of specialized workshops, convening of task force teams, etc.
10.00 Introduction, Bo Libert, OECD
10.15 USEMS - Process, Problems and Goals, Vsevolod Gavrilov, Federal
Session 1: OECD Country Experience
10.30 Integrated Monitoring Systems in Canada, Ed Wiken, Environment Canada
11.15 The National Monitoring System in Sweden, Manuela Notter, SNV Sweden
12.00 Air Quality Surveillance in the Netherlands, Jan Aben, RIVM, The
12.45 Lunch at Restaurant Mir
Session 2: The Issues
This session will discuss the following issues and how they should be
considered in the
development of USEMS. Each theme will be introduced by one OECD and one
participants (names in parenthesis).
Links with Decision-Making
- Coordination between monitoring systems (Manuela Notter)
- Integrated reporting providing support for policy making (Jan Aben)
- Optimizing monitoring networks (Jan Aben)
- Ensuring quality of data (Ed Wiken)
Institutional and Financial Set-up
- Financing of monitoring and cost-accounting of monitoring systems
- Privatisation and contracting of monitoring (Jan Aben)
- Production facility and emission registers (Manuela Notter)
Dissemination of Information (Ed Wiken)
Session 3: Conclusions
16.30 Discussion and adoption of workshop conclusions
List of Participants
Last updated September 30, 1996 by Lorant Czaran