Conservation research leads to a paradigm shift in farming practice: a case study from the Western Australian wheatbelt
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Denis A. Saunders, 2002. "Conservation research leads to a paradigm shift in farming practice: a case study from the Western Australian wheatbelt", A clash of Paradigms: Community and research-based conservation, Daniel Lunney, Chris Dickman, Shelley Burgin
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This paper describes a project that produced an atlas of changes in the distribution and abundance of birds of the wheatbelt of Western Australia. The atlas was based on data collected by 187 community-based observers between 1987 and 1990. The atlas also contained data from annotated bird lists from 10 locations in the wheatbelt published before 1937. Comparisons between data from these two periods were used to assess changes.
The published atlas was reviewed in six journals. In this paper, these reviews are used to demonstrate differences in attitudes among scientists to the use of community-based observers to collect data to monitor change. One review was scathing of the use of such observers and the worth of the data collected by them. The other five reviews acknowledged the problems of using data from community-based observers, however, they also accepted the benefits of using volunteer observers. These benefits include: the ability to cover a large area with a sparse population; the self-education of those collecting the data; and the raising of a conservation force for change.
The paper presents a case for using volunteers to monitor change and illustrates how this process has led to changes in conservation practices in the wheatbelt of Western Australia.