Participatory monitoring of biodiversity in East African grazing lands.
There are disagreements on the use of standard biodiversity monitoring methods to promote community participation. This study combined three methods to investigate questions why monitor biodiversity, what biodiversity to monitor and how participatory biodiversity monitoring can be promoted in central Uganda in East Africa. The question of why biodiversity should be monitored concerns the justification for monitoring, while the question of what to monitor concerns the choice of biodiversity variables, and the question of how to monitor biodiversity concerns the links between the data generated from monitoring and problems associated particularly with regard to community participation. The study selected landscape and sampling scales (i.e. plots) for participatory monitoring of biodiversity. Herders identified main landscape patches and plant species. Herder value-weighted indicators, such as invasive species and range condition scores (i.e. composite indicators representing species palatability, composition, cover, density and richness) were used for measuring biodiversity in their grazing lands. To understand what biodiversity to monitor, we interpreted the correlation between biodiversity indicators and herder value-weighted range conditions. Herders defined biodiversity from a utilitarian perspective, which is inconsistent with the conventional scientific goals of biodiversity conservation which focus on preservation of the total species pool. To address the question of how to monitor biodiversity, evidence from the folk taxonomy of sampled plant species and other proxy biodiversity indicators, including herder value-weighted range condition scores, were compared to understand scale dependence. We inferred that the landscape scale monitoring was more sensitive to measuring biodiversity than the conventional scales of plots.