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    Scientists tap local expertise to deepen knowledge of threatened species

    Conservation managers should build partnerships with local people to provide urgently needed biodiversity data, such as sightings of the Proboscis Monkey (pictured). Paul Williams
    BOGOR, Indonesia (27 September, 2013)_ Involving local people in conservation efforts can be a reliable and cost-effective way to identify the habitats of species of concern in tropical forests, a study has found.

    A paper written by scientists working with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which was recently published in Environmental Management, concludes that local people can help expand knowledge of large areas, helping to improve conservation management.

    Since conservation managers cannot be expected to control and protect all species in tropical forests, they need reliable information on species of significance to set priorities, the study said.

    However, across much of the tropics such data are absent, incomplete or unreliable and biodiversity studies are prohibitively expensive in terms of expertise, time and cost. As a result, the study considered alternative approaches that made better use of local knowledge.

    The six-week study was conducted in the Malinau district of East Kalimantan province in Indonesia between 2007 and 2008. It involved 52 informants in seven villages and cost about $5,000. Comparable research, using only scientists, would have cost an estimated $150,000 to $400,000, the study said.

    The study was part of a trio of research projects in Malinau undertaken between 2007 and 2008. CIFOR scientists have been working in the region since the early 1990s. Two earlier studies, previously published, explored the changing role of the forest for local communities and how forest-dependent people cope during such crises as a major flood that washed away many dwellings and crops in 2006.
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