Identify social, technical, and communicative barriers that prevent successful collaborations between community groups and resource management agencies by means of a stream-monitoring case study.
I am interested in what prevents resource managers and scientists from wanting to collaborate with community stewardship groups in order to address gaps in environmental monitoring. Environmental monitoring is a fundamental component of conservation which allows researchers to detect and understand changes in the environment, such as those resulting from climate change or pollution. However, monitoring is time consuming, expensive, and consequently often omitted or conducted insufficiently. These community groups collect data in their local environments, monitoring numerous factors, such as air quality, water temperature, and biodiversity; as such, they are a potential resource that can address some of the current limitations of environmental monitoring. However, in spite of many examples of volunteers collecting data comparable to science professionals, skepticism about the credibility of community-gathered data has hindered most successful collaborations between resource managers, scientists, and community stewardship groups. I am interested in identifying the reasons for said hindrance, and learning how we can improve the collaborative process.
My project will consist of a case study involving a stream-monitoring collaboration between a resource management agency (specifically, DFO) and a community stewardship group (North Shore Streamkeepers). I will (1) observe and report challenges of implementation of the project, such as social, technical, or communicative obstacles, and (2) record potential differences in volunteer vs. professional data. In doing so, I hope to further our understanding of technical and social barriers that prevent successful collaborations between communities stewardship groups and agencies responsible for management of environmental resources.