1. Community Based Monitoring Handbook

1. Community Based Monitoring Handbook

1.1 Introduction

“No single way of knowing is better than the other, but both in union can be better than either. Our Elders teach that masculine and feminine must come into balance before harmony can be achieved, and in harmony comes understanding. The place of bringing the two together is the wisdom of the heart.”

Larry Merculieff, “Indigenous Peoples and the Bering Sea:
A marginalized ten thousand year legacy of Knowledge and Wisdom”

Community Based Monitoring is a complex research field that is becoming an essential and often required component in academic research and natural resource management. It is often used as a validation of results produced by conventional research methods. Community based monitoring enables researchers to reach beyond “Western” science by using the best available knowledge, be it academic, indigenous, traditional or local. Such an holistic approach improves understanding of ecological systems and how they interrelate with human societies.

This Handbook is written to enhance the role of community based observations of current and emerging research projects in the Arctic. The main principles of Community Based Monitoring activities, such as inclusiveness, respect for and recognition of knowledge holder rights and beneficence remain the same across disciplines and geographical areas. Thus, this information could be easily applied to broader monitoring efforts and in non-arctic regions.

The opinions and recommendations offered in the Handbook are based mainly on the shared experience of eight community based monitoring programs in North America, Scandinavia, Russia, and Australia. These projects’ leaders kindly agreed to be interviewed and shared their thoughts about challenges and successes in their work. The reviewed projects were selected to represent the cultural and methodological diversity of community based monitoring programs. Relevant papers and the author’s personal experience weighed in as well. Recommendations were compiled based on the analysis of this information.

This Handbook attempts to provide a broad assessment of community based monitoring. While it is not a comprehensive analysis, it explores the experiences of different community based monitoring programs in an effort to highlight the best and most successful practices of each. It is also designed for use as a framework for custom tailoring community based monitoring for a specific situation. The Handbook is written for a diverse audience, including scientists, students, Arctic community residents, and government officials. It may help achieve the pursuit of knowledge with successful implementation of community based monitoring.