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close this bookBiological Monitoring: Signals from the Environment (GTZ, 1991)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsBioindicators and Biological Monitoring
Open this folder and view contentsConcept for a biological monitoring study:
Open this folder and view contentsBioindicators and biomonitors in aquatic ecosystems with special attention to potential applications in developing countries
Open this folder and view contentsThe Use of Bioindicators for Environmental Monitoring in Tropical and Subtropical Countries
Open this folder and view contentsBioindicators for monitoring of atmospheric pollutants in Asian countries


You have acquired a publication dealing with bioindicators. It provides an overview as to the data on the environment which they can supply, and how to interpret those data. With a complex, technical-sounding topic such as this, one might well ask: What use are bioindicators in development cooperation? And the question would appear legitimate.

For several years, environmental impact assessments (EIAs) have been conducted in a growing number of countries. This instrument provides information on the anticipated effects of a project on the environment. What is particularly important in this context is to establish whether and to what extent the natural environment in which the project is to be launched can withstand those impacts.

Unfortunately, the rich body of scientific knowledge already on hand is far from reaching the point where all the effects of all substances and all interventions on all living organisms (plant, animal, man) have been established. It will be many decades before that point is reached - and even then the knowledge we have will be incomplete.

One way of observing the effects of substances is through bioindicators. This publication is designed to give the reader an overview of the type of information which bioindicators can provide, what inferences can be made on the basis of that information, and how those inferences can be put to good use.

In producing the work a deliberate attempt has been made to avoid language which is too "scientific", in order to make the book more readily accessible to readers not yet familiar with the field. Sit back and enjoy the rich diversity of nature and the signals which she sends out to us. Discover too that in your immediate sphere, in your field of activity the appropriate instruments to monitor the environment have still to be found. Perhaps doing so will spur you on to study in greater depth the complex topic of bioindicators, and to put some of the latest findings into practice.

You will find more than enough references to specialized literature in the reference sections. And should you have any further questions, then please feel free to contact the authors or the staff of GATE at GTZ.

Finally, a word of gratitude to the authors of the various contributions which make up this work. Without their commitment and patience the book could not have been produced.

Brigitte Baumer

Project advisor at the Environmental Unit of GTZ