Participatory monitoring of changes in coastal and marine biodiversity
Indian Journal of Marine Sciences
Department of Aquatic Environment and Conservation, Faculty of Aquatic Sciences and Technology, University of Dar es Salaam, P.O. Box 35064, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
This study reports results obtained from participatory monitoring conducted in Tanzania in two types of keystone ecosystems, mangrove forests and coral reefs. The report also analyses participatory monitoring as an effective tool in environmental conservation and management. Participatory monitoring data collected from three mangrove areas subjected to different levels of human impacts, low, moderate and high, clearly indicated the effects on mangrove basal area and species diversity. Participatory coral reef monitoring clearly showed degradation due to human impacts in one are and definite positive trends over time due to management interventions in another area. Participatory monitoring produces large amounts of informative data in a short time at low cost. Moreover, it has profound positive impact on the participants in terms of enhancing their environmental awareness, creating a feeling of "ownership" of the environment and motivating them to protect and restore the ecosystems they monitor. However, in order for participatory monitoring to be successful, there should be proper selection of participants, adequate training and on-going supervision by experts.