COMMUNITY-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING IN STREAM ECOSYSTEMS: POINTING THE WAY TO SUSTAINABLE SALMON MANAGEMENT ON VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Sherstone, Andria J.
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Community-based environmental monitoring activities are increasing across Canada. In these activities, organizations undertake the assessment of a specific ecosystem attribute, such as a species or a species assemblage, to improve natural resource management. Indeed, this process has been widely acknowledged as critical in British Columbia’s salmon enhancement and assessment programs under the direction of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Oceans Habitat Enhancement Branch. Through federal support of these initiatives, many community-based organizations are mobilizing on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. However, this increase in willing organizations does not guarantee that monitoring activities are benefiting the management of salmon stocks. Often, groups are unable to maintain a stable volunteer base or to collect data that is useable by resource managers. Here I attempt to determine if indicators for successful community-based monitoring can be used to identify if groups are contributing in a positive and effective manner to their local salmon enhancement initiatives. The indicators most critical for organizational success, as identified through a literature review and interviews with active community-based organizations on Vancouver Island, include: volunteer training, community and educational programs, clear goals and roles, and project follow-up, with the most important identified as funding and fundraising, standardization of methods and protocols, and effective communication strategies. Concurrent implementation of these practices can ensure that best practices for salmon enhancement and assessment programs are employed for sustainable natural resource management of salmon.