The Role of Community Participation in Locally-Based Natural Resource Monitoring. A Case Study of a Collaborative Project in Cambodia

Start date: 22 September, 2015 End date: 22 December, 2015 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A29027 Countries: Cambodia Institutions: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Grant recipient: Anna Albin Total grant: 18,000 DKK



In face of challenges related to the rapid biodiversity loss, new methods of
data collection and management have to be introduced. Community-Based Natural
Resource Management (CBNRM) is increasingly recognised as a viable management
strategy, and locally-based monitoring as an accurate tool for environmental data
collection. Still, little is known about the effects of incorporating the communities’
interests and knowledge into the monitoring schemes and how their decisions affect the data collected. Following the framework for Public Participation in Scientific Research (Shirk et al. 2012), this study aims to assess how the level of participants’ involvement in the design and implementation of local monitoring affects the outputs and outcomes achieved by the project. It is based on a case study of a bottom-up CBNRM project “It’s our forest too!” (IOFT) in Cambodia. Community-led and expert-led forest monitoring were conducted to assess the effect of the route choice on the area covered, as well as luxury wood, animals and disturbance recorded.
Community-led monitoring was guided by local patrollers and the expert-led
approach was based on the network of predesigned line transects. Additionally, 75
interview schedules were conducted with IOFT participants to identify the individual
and social-ecological outcomes of the project. Open-ended conversations were
conducted to get an insight into the everyday concerns of the community and explore topics related to human-nature relationship, hunting and IOFT perception among the villagers. The analysis of participation models showed that IOFT represents a Co-Created management. The two monitoring methods significantly differ in terms of collected records. Expert-led approach collects more data about luxury wood and disturbance, and community-led monitoring records considerably higher species richness. There are no significant differences between the numbers of recorded animals during both monitoring methods. Additionally, the high degree and quality of participation has an explicit impact on the individual and social-ecological outcomes achieved by the project. Based on the presented study, further research and systematic evaluation is recommended in order to adjust and secure long-term sustainability of IOFT.