Most efforts to monitor the living resources in the Arctic have focused on scientist-executed methods. However, the local involvement has been limited. But this situation may change in the near future. Anthropologists and biologists are now introducing a new approach to the monitoring, where the community members are directly involved in the interpretation of the data collected by themselves, and in the application of the findings in the decision-making processes.
In Greenland, the Ministry of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture is pilot-testing this new approach in Qaasuitsup Municipality. It is expected that the activities will improve the capacities and opportunities of the communities in terms of monitoring and managing the resources within some sustainable limits. Moreover, it is expected that it will improve the communication and the understanding between the local users and the national managers of the natural resources.
The initial experiences are very promising. Many local hunters and fishermen enrolled as volunteers. The municipal administration aims to expand the activities to more villages. The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.
The approach is new in the Arctic. While there are several brilliant examples of the documentation of the traditional and local ecological knowledge, still, there are only few examples, where the local knowledge is systematically collected and used in a forward-looking manner to strengthen the management of the Arctic living resources.
International experiences suggest that locally based monitoring and management may be particularly useful in those areas, where there is a long distance between the government and village decision-makers, and, where the villagers, in fact, take many management decisions.
To read more about this new approach and the pilot testing in Greenland, use the following links: www.pisuna.org (in Greenlandic, English and Danish), www.monitoringmatters.org (in English), and www.nordeco.dk.