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Identifying Effective and Sustainable Measures for Community-Based Environmental Monitoring

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Abstract

Resource development projects typically result in monitoring programs that fail to fully consider the values and participation of surrounding communities. Also, monitoring protocols for single environmental values can be insufficient for addressing the cumulative impacts of resource development. Community-based environmental monitoring (CBEM) has emerged as a way to meaningfully include local citizens in the decision-making process and assessment of the development of natural resources. Our research explored how to develop effective and sustainable CBEM. Interviews were conducted with staff from 15 CBEM programs established across Canada to identify criteria of what constitutes effective CBEM. Results demonstrate that CBEM offers an effective, locally adapted, and culturally applicable approach to facilitate community participation in natural resource management and to track environmental change. Benefits of CBEM include: locally relevant monitoring protocols, inclusion of cumulative impacts, better informed decision-making, and increased awareness and collaboration amongst community, governments, and proponents. Challenges associated with CBEM are cost, capacity, longevity, distribution of results, and establishing credibility. This research validates the use of CBEM for improving resource management.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge Scott Green, Bram Noble, Catherine Nolan, and Jane Young for reviewing a previous version of the manuscript and providing valuable feedback. We thank the anonymous reviewers for thoughtful suggestions on improving the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ariana J. McKay.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Appendix

Appendix

Table 3

Table 3 Content themes and tags used to code interview transcripts of practitioners involved in community-based environmental monitoring programs from across Canada

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McKay, A.J., Johnson, C.J. Identifying Effective and Sustainable Measures for Community-Based Environmental Monitoring. Environmental Management 60, 484–495 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-017-0887-3

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