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Methods in sustainable monitoring: plot sampling versus interviews

Mortensen, Lars O., Jensen, Maj Brit
Biodiversity and conservation 2012 v.21 no.1 pp. 145-153
basal area, biodiversity, biologists, developing countries, forest trees, forests, interviews, monitoring, work schedules
Biodiversity monitoring in developing countries has long been haunted by problems with sustaining monitoring programs, especially after funding stops. Current programs are developed to fulfill strict scientific demands, which often results in high priced programs, with little local participation and attention. Thus, to enhance sustainability of the biodiversity programs, there is a great need to reconcile scientific rigor with local involvement. In this paper, we analyze the cost-effectiveness and usefulness of a standard and a participatory monitoring method, in their ability to monitor biodiversity, while rising local participation. As a standard method we used a forest characteristic with tree basal area and Shannon index as proxy for biodiversity. Interviews were used as a participatory approach, with hunters’ catch-effort as proxy. The analysis showed that the interviews reached a better precision with fewer work hours spent and at the same time involved local populations and stake holders. As a tradeoff, the interviews lacked the scientific rigor from forest characteristic. In order to sustain monitoring programs, we conclude that conservation biologists needs to compromise between scientific rigor and public participation.