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Adaptive value of participatory biodiversity monitoring in community forestry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 January 2007

ANNA LAWRENCE
Affiliation:
Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the Environment, Dyson Perrins Building, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK
KRISHNA PAUDEL
Affiliation:
ForestAction, Ekantakuna – Jawalakhel, PO Box 12207, Nepal
RICHARD BARNES
Affiliation:
International and Rural Development Department, University of Reading, PO Box 237, Reading, RG6 6AL, UK
YAM MALLA
Affiliation:
Regional Community Forestry Training Center (Recoftc), PO Box 111, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, 10903, Thailand

Abstract

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.

Type
Papers
Copyright
© 2006 Foundation for Environmental Conservation

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