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Research Report

Participatory Monitoring in tropical forest management: a review of tools, concepts and lessons learned

Kristen Evans
Manuel R. Guariguata
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2008
Pages: 56
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 3-3)

    Until recently, monitoring in tropical forest management has generally focused on evaluating a project’s progress or answering a research question, and it was usually performed by professional managers or scientists. However, in the past decade, our understanding of the importance and role of monitoring has changed significantly. Now local people are working with professionals to develop and implement monitoring programs together. This collaboration changes the dynamic of forest management, with monitoring assuming a central role by encouraging local people to ask questions about their forest and their forest-based livelihoods, think about change in a systematic way and respond with reasoned...

  2. (pp. 5-5)

    The first step in the development of this review was a search of peer-reviewed publications through the Science Direct, Springer, and Blackwell Publishing web-based engines and the ISI Web of Knowledge (see Appendix A: Keywords searched). The second step was another web-based search of “grey” literature (project reports, teaching modules, guidebooks, and conference proceedings). Regional searches for other less visible publications were also carried out from India, Central America and Brazil. Information was gathered from current initiatives and ongoing field experiences, as well as step-by-step guidelines for practical implementation of participatory monitoring initiatives (see Appendix B: web sites searched). The...

  3. (pp. 6-8)

    Monitoring is the systematic gathering and analysis of information in order to gauge if something is changing (CIFOR 2007). Monitoring is more than a one-off assessment; the information must be collected at regular intervals that are appropriate for the subject matter, cost-efficient and not overly burdensome. The information is analyzed, and the results are evaluated and used for decision-making.

    The term “participatory monitoring” applies to monitoring activities that involve local people who may have not received specialist, professional training and who have varying skills, expertise, societal roles and interests. Participatory monitoring is an ongoing process where local forest users systematically...

  4. (pp. 9-21)

    The following lessons learned, broad themes and conclusion emerged from the review.

    This section considers issues around planning and implementing participatory monitoring: Who participates and how? What will be monitored and how? How can a participatory monitoring program be developed and scaled up? What are the pitfalls, and how can they possibly be avoided when implementing future programs?

    Participatory monitoring is defined by the way people work together and the roles they play in planning and implementing the monitoring program. Local people bring their time, access to the natural resources and their knowledge. Their roles can range from solely gathering...

  5. (pp. 22-30)

    Participatory monitoring can create spaces and opportunities for more inclusive, better-informed decision-making. The following articles provide examples where monitoring led to concrete decision-making and management actions.

    Becker et al. (2005) present a case in montane Ecuador where community-based monitoring fog capture by cloud forest vegetation alerted local people to the importance of forest ecosystem services such as moisture retention and watershed integrity. By being involved in monitoring bird populations, local people learned about local bird species and their conservation status, became familiar with the potential of ecotourism and began to integrate biodiversity conservation into sustainable development planning in their community....

  6. (pp. 31-33)

    Participatory monitoring is a way for the people who depend on the forest to work together towards better management. The diverse experiences reviewed here suggest a new understanding of the importance of monitoring in forest management and the roles of local people. The main lessons derived from this review are summarized below.

    There are many ways to develop and implement participatory monitoring programs, and indicators are not always necessary. Indicators can be useful, but they should be locally developed and not overly technical. Some practitioners have successfully avoided indicators altogether and focused instead on monitoring specific activities, issues or rules....