4.1 Advice From Those Who Tried and Succeeded
The interviews in the previous section provided a very useful and inspiring account of practical issues involved in the implementation of community based monitoring programs. Since there are no “text books” on community based monitoring, learning from such projects could be the most productive way of entering this field. While the interviewed projects vary greatly, some common trends related to community based monitoring emerge from “lessons learned”. This is what many interviewed project leaders underscored as the most important components and activities leading to successful work.
- Building a relationship with an organization that has qualified personnel to spend sufficient time on the design and development is important. A diverse team of collaborators with different types of expertise, from academia to community leaders and government officials, is essential
- A researcher needs to already have or work on establishing a relationship with a person or a group in the community who will actually do the project. Unless he/she lives there, a researcher needs to partner with a local person or local organization, who would work with them to provide training and other support
- Ask what kind of knowledge or information is available already; look at prior research first and build on it
- Think long-term, economize, and move slowly. Start with a small project or a pilot that can be built on later
- Allocate sufficient time and resources for local project staff training
Prepare for the Unexpected
- Being flexible and willing to change things is important.
Maintain a Presence in the Community at all Times
- It’s important to have the right person on site to address emerging issues in a timely manner
Make it Relevant to Communities
- Indigenous and Traditional knowledge can only exist if people use it. Community based monitoring is one of the means to entice people to use traditional knowledge. By paying more attention to their environment and taking pride in their work, communities develop a feeling of ownership of and control over the consequences of the use of their environment
- Learn about the community’s life cycle and respect their schedule
- Don’t force the project if there is no interest in the community
- Respect gender roles accepted in the community but don’t overlook women as they are the key to the knowledge on many subsistence activities
Make it Relevant to Science and Resource Management Agencies
- Community based monitoring is an invaluable component of any large-scale monitoring, since without local residents it is impossible to collect year-around data in the vast Arctic region
- Quantifiable methods that allow for the comparison of data between disciplines increase the range of application of community based monitoring data and therefore increase the interest of funding agencies
Think of Sustainability
- Community based monitoring is based on human relationships. What is invested in that relationship will define what the final result will be. It’s a fine balance between give and take.
- Generating grass-roots support is the most important condition for sustainable community based monitoring. No long-term funding is available for community based monitoring in the Arctic at this time. Local people should contribute their time to collect information on their own. Good relationships with communities are the key to success