Community-Based Forest Monitoring

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Maria E. Fernandez-Gimenez, Heidi L. Ballard and Victoria E. Sturtevant, from “Adaptive Management and Social Learning in Collaborative and Community-Based Monitoring: a Study of Five Community-Based Forestry Organizations in the Western USA,” 2008.

Adaptive management (Holling 1978) strives to overcome the limitations of conventional natural resource science and command-and-control resource management by treating management actions as structured experiments, and attempting to document and learn from both planned actions and unplanned environmental surprises. …

Following Keen et al (2005), we define social learning in the natural resources context as an intentional process of collective self-reflection through interaction and dialog among diverse participants (stakeholders). This definition emphasizes learning through interactions in a group setting embedded in a particular biophysical and sociocultural context, and the nature of learning as a conscious act of collective self-reflection.

Drawing on the language of systems analysis and organizational learning (Argyris and Schon 1978, Senge 1990), Keen et al. (2005) and Keen and Mahanty (2006) describe how social learning can occur at several levels, from learning about the consequences of specific actions (single-loop learning), to learning about the assumptions underlying our actions (double-loop learning), to learning that challenges the values and norms that underpin our assumptions and actions (triple-loop learning). …

Taken together, the multiple and intertwined dimensions of intentional learning that these CBFs (community-based forestry organizations) advance – adaptive management to learn about ecosystems, social and collaborative learning about the cultural and social significance of forest-based livelihoods, and critical self-reflection to advance organizational and community learning and development – can be understood as a renegotiation of the meaning of the people-land connection.

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