Reporting to local and external stakeholders is a vital step in community-based forest monitoring. To inform decision-making effectively, data must be shared in the most appropriate format for different audiences. This will help achieve two-way data flows - so that relevant information reaches decision-makers, who will then provide policy and management responses that are appropriate and useful for communities. The dissemination of results from forest monitoring initiatives is essential for improving local decision making for resource management systems (explained here).
This project aimed to report back to communities within one month of data collection, though this was a challenge due to the complexities of data analysis. The project maintained regular information flows to wider audiences within the local communities through meetings, workshops, posters, maps, videos and short reports, as well as other media outlets such as radio.
The monitors received training in making presentations on the results to their communities. This helps to encourage communities to become more engaged and interested in the results. It is also important to involve communities in interpreting results through discussions and visualisation of data, and also to develop useful reports (see photo below). There is also a strong ethical argument for investing time and effort in ensuring that information is returned to the communities that have generated it.
At the external level, reporting requires the active participation of other stakeholders in order to align information and results to different policies and developments, and to achieve the right level of technical detail. All sixteen Makushi communities agreed that information on the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, biomass and traditional farming could be shared through formal reports to the Guyana Forestry Commission. These can be used to inform the development of national forest monitoring and safeguard information systems as part of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy.
In the initial formulation of a community-based forest monitoring initiative, it is imperative to consider how different technological tools can determine the way in which data is shared and reported. For example, recording video and audio interviews or typed answers using electronic questionnaires (on Open Data Kit forms), has an impact on how rapidly data is analysed in comparison to georeferenced data points that are easier to process. The effectiveness of data reporting with external stakeholders will ultimately depend on information needs and the compatibility of chosen methodologies.
Data must be shared in the most appropriate format for different audiences, and must consider the choice of methodologies and tools for reporting the monitoring results.