Community-based research: where are the rewards?
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Daniel Lunney, Alison Matthews, 2002. "Community-based research: where are the rewards?", A clash of Paradigms: Community and research-based conservation, Daniel Lunney, Chris Dickman, Shelley Burgin
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In this paper we advocate community-based research, that is, the integration of community knowledge and support into research programs aimed at solving conservation problems. The rewards for researchers include obtaining an economical source of data, including historical information, access to private lands and a high impact of research results when the community supports and helps to implement the recommendations. For the community, the rewards are that its concerns are taken into account by researchers, that management actions are more likely to succeed, and the community will gain a better understanding of the findings of the ecological research. While this appears to be a mutually beneficial partnership, there is a conflict. Some researchers do not accept that community knowledge can contribute to scientific endeavour and will not consider incorporating community information into their programs. Thus, a major aspiration of involving the community in biodiversity conservation will not be fulfilled. By the same token, some communities are rejecting the inclusion of scientific research when dealing with conservation problems. The Natural Heritage Trust (NHT), for example, receives massive funding which is, in our opinion, being allocated by the community to the community without any obligation to involve research scientists. This matters because the NHT is by far the biggest pool of funding for a better environment for Australia in the 21st Century. The consequence is that the gap between research scientists and community groups working on biodiversity issues will widen to an unbridgeable gulf unless both parties acknowledge the clash of paradigms and work to overcome them, rather than entrench them.