Informative methodology brochure promotes the dialogue between academic and local knowledge on biodiversity monitoring

In 2017, researchers involved in the Participatory Biodiversity Monitoring (MPB) project were intrigued by a sudden drop in the number of forest butterflies at the Cazumbá-Iracema Extractive Reserve, in the state of Acre.

Butterflies are good indicators of ecosystem health, and the Ecological Research Institute (IPE) researchers suspected the cause might be an increase in deforestation. To solve the mystery they met local monitors at a Knowledge Gathering — an event that brings together riverine communities engaged in field monitoring, conservation managers of protected areas, and researchers to analyze the results of the participatory biodiversity monitoring. As a result they created an informative brochure.

“During the event, community members told researchers that tabocai trees (as bamboo groves are called in the region) have a life cycle of  30 years and a number of them recently died. The clearings opened in the forest due to deforestation were the cause for the increase in open-field butterflies, and the reduction of the forest species,” according to Cristina Tofoli, MPB Project Coordinator at IPE, and one of the over 50 authors of the brochure “Knowledge Gatherings; A New Way To Talk About Conservation”.

Four Knowledge Gatherings have been held in just over eight years. Besides fostering local communities' involvement in conservation of the forest, these gatherings nurture  dialogue,  specific knowledge exchanges, and improve a monitoring methodology that can be replicated.

Working together with ICMBio, IPE monitors Amazon biodiversity in 18 protected areas under the Partnership for the Conservation of Amazon Biodiversity. The Participatory Biodiversity Monitoring is  part of Monitora — the National Biodiversity Monitoring Program.

The recently launched 10-chapter e-publication describes how the Knowledge Gatherings methodology was developed, including testimonials from several participants. “Diving into this universe of experiences and multiple conceptions has the potential to promote major changes,” says Dárlison Andrade, coordinator of ICMBio Biodiversity Monitoring. “We may often find an answer for complex questions based on the simplicity of a gaze that can see what experts often miss,” he adds.

The publication can be downloaded from the IPE website (in Portuguese)