Community-based monitoring handbook: lessons from the Arctic.
Community-based monitoring is a complex research field that is becoming an essential component in academic research and natural resource management. It is often used to validate results produced by conventional research methods. Community-based monitoring enables researchers to build on “Western” science by using the best available knowledge, be it academic, indigenous, traditional or local. This holistic approach improves understanding of ecological systems and how they interrelate with human societies. The Community-based Monitoring Handbook has been written to enhance the role of community-based observations in 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, are the same across disciplines and geographical areas. Thus, this information could be applied to broader monitoring efforts and 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 share their thoughts about the 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 authors’ personal experience weighed in as well. Recommendations were compiled based on the analysis of this information. This handbook provides a broad assessment of community-based monitoring. While it is not a comprehensive analysis, it explores 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 specific community-based monitoring projects. The handbook is written for a diverse audience, including scientists, students, Arctic community residents and government officials. The successful implementation of community-based monitoring may help further the pursuit of knowledge in the Arctic and other regions.