1.3 Background

This Handbook was commissioned by the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme (CBMP) of the Conservation of the Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) working group of the Arctic Council 1. The CBMP is an international network of scientists and local resource users working together to improve detection, understanding, reporting and response to significant trends in Arctic biodiversity. Due to the vast and complex Arctic system, it is critical that a coordinated effort be realized to facilitate better conservation and adaptation actions. A particular focus of the CBMP is on providing information that allows local communities in the Arctic to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

Early in the development of CBMP, community based monitoring was emphasized as a preeminent component of the program. To foster increased use and recognition of community based monitoring approaches, the CBMP identified the development of training manuals as a vital step. The manuals would focus on specific community based monitoring methods, as well as highlight the full spectrum of successful and established community based monitoring programs, ranging from citizen science projects to the use of local and traditional knowledge to track change in the Arctic’s living resources.

The goal would be to improve current community based monitoring programs and to guide the creation of new ones. To facilitate the discussion on the best application of community based monitoring for Arctic biodiversity monitoring and to encourage the development of community based monitoring projects, CAFF produced two white papers: “Community-based Monitoring – a discussion paper” (Fleener et al, 2004) and “A Strategy for Facilitating and Promoting Community Based Monitoring Approaches in Arctic Biodiversity Monitoring” (Huntington, 2008). The latter also recommended producing community based monitoring training manuals. This Handbook is developed in response to these recommendations.

As an additional benefit, this effort may spur the creation of formal or informal networks of community based monitoring practitioners to share experiences and collaborate on the future development of community based monitoring.

1 The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that provides a mechanism to address common concerns and challenges faced by Arctic people and governments. It is comprised of the eight Arctic nations (Member states: Canada, Denmark/Greenland/Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States of America), six Indigenous Peoples’ organizations (Permanent Participants: Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, and Saami Council).