|1. Solutions to the global environmental crisis require scientific knowledge and responses spanning different spatial scales and levels of societal organization; yet understanding how to translate environmental knowledge into decision-making and action remains limited.
2. We examined 104 published environmental monitoring schemes to assess whether participation in data collection and analysis influences the speed and scale of decision-making and action.
3. Our results show that scientist-executed monitoring informs decisions within regions, nations and international conventions. However, decisions typically take 3–9 years to be implemented.
4. We also show that scientist-executed monitoring has little impact at the village scale, where many natural resourcemanagement decisions are made.
5. At the village scale, monitoring schemes that involve local people, and relate to resource utilization at the village level, are much more effective at influencing decisions; these decisions typically take 0–1 year to be implemented.
6. Synthesis and applications: Involving local stakeholders in monitoring enhances management responses at local spatial scales, and increases the speed of decision-making to tackle environmental challenges at operational levels of resourcemanagement.|