What is the Community-Based Monitoring Network?
The Community-based Monitoring Network was established by the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board as a pilot study in three participating communities, Arviat, Cambridge Bay and Sanikiluaq, in February 2012. The Community-Based Monitoring Network brings together respected Nunavummiut harvesters to share their knowledge and observations about wildlife. Rather than rely on interviews to collect this information, participants are trained to use specially designed hand-held computers (MESAs) to record wildlife sightings, harvests, local and traditional ecological knowledge, and other observations while out on the land. Information recorded on the hand-held computers is then combined to create a collective storehouse of knowledge that will be used to improve local, regional, and territorial wildlife management practices in Nunavut by ensuring that decision making bodies have up-to-date information directly from those who spend the most time on the land. During the trial period, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board evaluated the program and approved a plan to operate the Community-based Monitoring Network on a larger scale. A new community will be added in the spring of each year, with three communities collecting data at any given time.
What is the Rationale behind the Community-Based Monitoring Network?
The idea to establish the Community-based Monitoring Network grew out of discussions with local community members, Regional Wildlife Organizations, Hunter and Trapper Organizations, and other stakeholders, and through lessons learned during the Nunavut Wildlife Harvest Study. The Community-based Monitoring Network recognizes the skill and knowledge of harvesters. The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (Nunavut Wildlife Management Board or Board) may include the information collected by the Community-based Monitoring Network when addressing wildlife management issues, especially in developing management plans, identifying important harvesting areas, documenting species distribution, movement, and health, and when identifying issues that may require further research. The Community-Based Monitoring Network will help to assemble information that is needed to address concerns affecting wildlife and Inuit harvesting rights. By bringing together their knowledge and observations over time, participating harvesters will help answer some important questions about wildlife, which might include the following:
- How are migration routes or seasonal ranges changing?
- What are the most effective harvesting techniques?
- Where are the most important habitats and harvesting areas that should be protected from development?
- Where are sick or injured animals being observed, and how often?
- Are populations increasing? Decreasing? Remaining constant?
How will Nunavut communities benefit from the Community-based Monitoring Network?
We hope that communities will see the benefits to becoming partners in the Community-based Monitoring Network. The efforts of participating communities and harvesters will contribute valuable information to improve wildlife management practices in Nunavut. Communities will have full access to their own data, which they can use to manage local wildlife issues. The project will create local employment and training opportunities for harvesters, and one part-time data clerk position in each of the communities. The project also seeks to improve communication between communities, regions, government, and other wildlife management agencies, while promoting stewardship and cooperative management.
How are participating communities and harvesters chosen?
The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board consulted with various organizations and co-management partners on the criteria to select the most appropriate communities for the project. Different social and economic circumstances (such as population size and employment rates), reliance on country foods, and communities that have identified concerns about wildlife and/or the environment are factors in determining the final communities. These criteria are used to assess applications received from interested communities in response to each call for applications. Applications are assessed by a Community Selection Committee, made up of representatives from the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, Regional Wildlife Organizations, the Nunavut Inuit Wildlife Secretariat, and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. The Community-Based Monitoring Network requires a long-term commitment from participants, so an expression of community enthusiasm and ownership of the project are important factors considered by the Community Selection Committee.
Will participant harvesters be compensated for their participation?
The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board values harvesters as professionals and the Community-Based Monitoring Network is built around their participation and hard work. Every time a harvester’s data is uploaded to the Community-based Monitoring Network database, his or her name is entered in a monthly draw for a chance to win Visa gift cards (worth up to $1,000), and semi-annual draws for larger prizes. Participants that contribute harvest and observation data to the project regularly will also receive recognition awards for their effort.
What opportunities are available for Inuit employment?
One person in each of the selected communities will be hired part-time to act as a data clerk for the project. The data clerk will be responsible for downloading information from the harvesters’ handheld computers (MESAs)and for maintaining the local database. The harvesters and data clerks will all receive training in the use of the hand-held computers and the management of information and data. The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board anticipates that the monthly draws will help offset the costs of hunting for participating harvesters.
Who will have access to the data?
Secure storage of the information contributed by Inuit harvesters is an important component of the Community-based Monitoring Network. Currently there are three levels of access to the data: harvesters can access their own information; data clerks can access all data collected for their community (but not for others); and the database manager and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board can access all the data. Participating harvesters enter a data sharing agreement with the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board. The agreement grants harvesters full ownership of the data they collect, but gives the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board licence to use, publish, and distribute the information for the purposes of meeting its wildlife research and management objectives. The privacy of the harvesters is protected as the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board will not make names, identification numbers, or specific travel routes available.
How will the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board keep participants and the public informed of the progress of the Community-based Monitoring Network?
The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board realizes that clear, timely, and open communications between communities, harvesters, and other wildlife management agencies will be critical to the success of the project. During the project, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board will maintain open lines of communication with participating communities and harvesters by sending out monthly newsletters to participants, making regular updates to the Community-based Monitoring Network website, issuing quarterly press releases, producing an annual report on the status of the project, and maintaining a Facebook page where participants and interested members of the public can share photos or stories, ask questions, and stay informed about the Community-based Monitoring Network, other wildlife monitoring projects, relevant news stories, etc.. In addition, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board has hired Rebecca Jeppesen with NovaSila Wildlife Consulting to act as the Community Liaison Officer for the project.
Who to contact for further information or for questions?
For more information, please contact us at the following coordinates:
NUNAVUT WILDILIFE MANAGEMENT BOARD
3rd Floor, 1106 Ikaluktuutiak Road
P.O. Box 1379, Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Phone: (867) 975 7300
Fax: (888) 421 9832