Adaptive value of participatory biodiversity monitoring in community forestry
In the context of action research in community forests, stakeholders' values for biodiversity can be elicited, communicated and understood with the help of a multidimensional conceptual framework. This incorporates levels of diversity (genes, species, habitats and processes), types of values (direct use, indirect use, option and existence) and stakeholders. This paper explores the effect of using this framework on forest monitoring, learning and communication, and wider implications for conservation, in Baglung District (Nepal). Monitoring was initially an unfamiliar concept to villagers, but the process clarified its purpose, whilst helping to elicit and exchange values and knowledge amongst stakeholders. This precipitated proposals for silvicultural experimentation and social inquiry into the diversity of users' needs. The framework allowed the translation of local value statements into categories recognized by other actors. It aided external stakeholders in understanding the factors contributing to values held by community forest users. Villagers' appreciation of ‘quality’ forest did not necessarily equate to the most ‘biodiverse’ forest, but rather the greenest and densest and that stocked with useful species. Elite domination, tenure and access to markets affected values assigned and behaviour in forest management. Elicitation of these values provoked questioning of forest management decisions and benefit sharing among community forest users. This, in turn, stimulated more democratic forest management and more inclusive, wide-ranging biodiversity values. Participatory monitoring is more conceptually challenging than is usually recognized, and the links between equity and conservation merit further attention in different cultural contexts.(Received December 22 2004)
(Accepted October 26 2006)
(Published Online January 15 2007)
Key Words: adaptive management; environmental democracy; equity; ethnobotany; forest management; indicators; Nepal; tenure.
c1 Correspondence: Dr Anna Lawrence Tel: +44 1865 275880 Fax: +44 1865 275850 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org