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Community-based monitoring of tropical forest crimes and forest resources using information and communication technology: Experiences from Prey Lang, Cambodia

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Søren Brofeldt, Dimitrios Argyriou, Nerea Turreira Garcia, Henrik Meilby, Finn Danielsen, Ida Theilade

The use of smartphones for data collection has opened up new opportunities for communities wishing to engage in community-based monitoring. While information and communication technology (ICT) is able to systematize data collection, complex functions and observation types can present challenges for community members. ICT also may skew community participation towards young men, as they are sometimes more comfortable using smartphones.

This study investigates the success and cost-effectiveness of having local forest monitors use ICT to collect data on forest crimes and forest resources in Prey Lang, Cambodia. A workshop was held with the Prey Lang Community Network to identify the resources and illegal activities to be monitored. Guided by the community members, a smartphone app was subsequently developed and a total of 36 community members were trained in its use. We examined the extent to which the capacity of community members to collect data was dependent upon the complexity of the ICT and on their age and gender. We also assessed the costs of the monitoring program over a two-year period.

The community members were able to collect large amounts of data regardless of their gender or age. They made 10,842 entries of data on illegal logging and forest resources. Increased complexity of the app had no impact on the proportion of quality data collected. The cost of monitoring resembled other community-based monitoring programs but was notably less than for monitoring by professional foresters. Our findings suggest that local communities with little formal education are able to monitor forest crimes and forest resources cost-effectively using ICT; however, while the documentation collected was highly valuable, software and hardware maintenance, along with the digital data validation process, will continue to require external support.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalCitizen Science: Theory and Practice
Volume3
Issue number2
Number of pages14
ISSN2057-4991
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

ID: 202949688