1 Tahrcountry Musings: Community wisdom and conservation

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Community wisdom and conservation

The contribution of community wisdom to conservation ecology
Martin Predavec, Daniel Lunney,Ben Hope, Eleanor Stalenberg, Ian Shannon, Mathew S. Crowtherand Indrie Miller

Conservation Biology, Volume 30, Issue 3, pages 496–505, June 2016

Collecting population data is often limited by geographic scale and time frame.  Understanding of trends comes from only part of their ranges at particular periods. The researchers say Working with citizen scientists is an excellent way to overcome these limits. This has the added benefit of exposing citizens to the scientific process and engaging them in management outcomes. 
The researchers asked community members to answer a question directly and thus examined whether community wisdom can inform conservation. They reviewed the results of 3 mail-in surveys that asked community members to say whether they thought koala populations were increasing, decreasing, or staying the same. They then compared the survey results with population trends derived from more traditional research. Population trends identified through community wisdom were similar to the trends identified by traditional research. The community wisdom surveys, however, allowed the question to be addressed at much broader geographical scales and time frames. The researchers sign off saying “Studies that apply community wisdom have the benefit of engaging a broad section of the community in conservation research and education and therefore in the political process of conserving species.”

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