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Adaptive Management and Social Learning in Collaborative and Community-Based Monitoring: a Study of Five Community-Based Forestry Organizations in the western USA

Maria E. Fernandez-Gimenez, Colorado State University
Heidi L. Ballard, University of California - Davis
Victoria E. Sturtevant, Southern Oregon University

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Abstract

Collaborative and community-based monitoring are becoming more frequent, yet few studies have examined the process and outcomes of these monitoring approaches. We studied 18 collaborative or community-based ecological assessment or monitoring projects undertaken by five community-based forestry organizations (CBFs), to investigate the objectives, process, and outcomes of collaborative ecological monitoring by CBF organizations. We found that collaborative monitoring can lead to shared ecological understanding among diverse participants, build trust internally and credibility externally, foster social learning and community-building, and advance adaptive management. The CBFs experienced challenges in recruiting and sustaining community participation in monitoring, building needed technical capacity for monitoring, and communicating monitoring results back to the broader community. Our results suggest that involving diverse and sometimes adversarial interests at key points in the monitoring process can help resolve conflicts and advance social learning, while also strengthening the link between social and ecological systems by improving the information base for management and increasing collective awareness of the interdependence of human and natural forest communities.

Key words

adaptive management; collaborative monitoring; multiparty monitoring; community-based monitoring; resilience; social-ecological systems; social learning
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087