A new section of the Forest COMPASS website looks at data sharing in community-based forest monitoring. It draws on experiences from a monitoring initiative in North Rupununi, Guyana, supported by the Global Canopy Programme.
The webpages show how the project balanced respect for local rights with efficient data transfer. They explain how the project worked through key considerations, namely the technology for data management; data classification; setting up a process to respond to requests for data access; and reporting to external stakeholders.
The development of a data-sharing protocol was essential, but was not a simple process. It required ongoing discussion throughout the project, involving village leaders, community assemblies and the decision-making body for all sixteen indigenous Makushi communities.
Discussions during the five years of the project made sure that everyone understood the risks, value and relevance of the data. The communities decided to use a traffic light system to classify data as red, amber or green. They took these decisions without coercion from external parties. In some cases the sensitivity of data was clear from the start (for example, on social problems affecting the communities). However, in other cases the significance of data was only fully understood once it was analysed and visualised.
The communities decided to share data on the drivers of deforestation, forest biomass and traditional farming with the Guyana Forestry Commission. This can inform the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy. The Global Canopy Programme is also sharing lessons learnt with Wai Wai communities in Guyana and partners in Acre, Brazil.