Towards more inclusive and solution orientated community-based environmental monitoring

Louise Mercer, Dustin Whalen, Michael Lim, Kendyce Cockney, Shaun Cormier, Charlotte Irish, Paul Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Downloads (Pure)


Rapid climate-driven environmental change continues to threaten front-line communities that rely on Arctic landscapes to sustain their way of life. Community-Based Monitoring (CBM) can increase our knowledge of environmental change and understanding of human-environment interactions occurring across the Arctic. However, the depth of CBM research outcomes have been limited by an imbalance in contributions from external researchers and community members. A detailed literature analysis revealed that the number of studies documenting CBM approaches in Inuit Nunangat (Inuit homeland in Canada) have increased over the last decade. We identify that bottom-up guiding protocols including the National Inuit Strategy on Research, has increased community engagement in Arctic research processes and equitable outcomes. However, these increases have been concentrated on wildlife-based research where consistent funding streams and pre-existing alignment with community priorities exist. To explore the potential for guiding principles to be more successfully incorporated into impactful CBM, we present a co-developed environmental CBM case study aiming to document and aid understanding of climate-driven landscape change near Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Canada since 2018. A foundation of early dialogue and collaborative partnerships between community members and external researchers formed the basis of a community-based climate monitoring program driven by community research priorities. A succession of funded CBM projects at Tuktoyaktuk demonstrated that longer term and resilient climate monitoring can bring together Scientific and Indigenous knowledge systems. Progressing beyond an emphasis on data collection is vital to sustain monitoring efforts, capacity sharing and co-dissemination processes to ensure research is communicated back in a way that is understandable, relevant, and usable to address community priorities. The need for successful CBM is often at odds with current research funding structures, which risks a fragmented mosaic of early-stage initiatives focused on understanding environmental problems rather than sustained and progressive research development towards cooperative solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number064003
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number6
Early online date12 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023

Cite this