What is the project goal?
Why collect information? What is the aim of your mapping, monitoring or data collection, what is your goal or desired end product or result?
So you want to start collecting information, perhaps you are going to be making a map, or perhaps you want to collect evidence of impacts on your land or gather other data or information. The first question to clearly ask of yourself or your community is WHY? What is it that you hope to gain or change or learn through the project?
The more detailed an answer you can give to this question the better set up you can get; making sure anyone involved in the project is working towards the same goal and being able to determine the best methodology for meeting it.
For example, if you want to make a map – what is your map for, what impact do you want it to have for you, your team, in the world, etc. Perhaps the map is the end product, or perhaps just one step in a longer process, or maybe the main aim is building relationships, and the map is the means to bring people a focus for working together.
What if you don't know yet? Perhaps you know you want to gather data about something that interests you but are not yet sure how you are going to use it. Don't worry, you can refine your aim and build on your project as you go along and learn more.
And remember - all plans change and it is impossible to predict everything in advance. There will be unforeseen outcomes, some beneficial, some possibly challenging, of your project. However having your main goal in mind as you begin to plan your methodology and define what information you are going to collect sets you up to meet any challenges, and welcome any positive changes, in the best way.