Participatory Forest Monitoring: An Assessment of the Accuracy of Simple Cost–Effective Methods

Participatory Forest Monitoring: An Assessment of the Accuracy of Simple Cost–Effective Methods


This article examines the feasibility of implementing participatory forest monitoring to conserve biodiversity and improving livelihoods for local communities. Long-term monitoring of forest conservation sites by professional scientists, is often cost prohibitive and uses techniques irrelevent to local community members, while simpler methods could be learned and implemented by local communities and more affordable.

Research Goals & Methods

The accuracy, cost, and reproducibility of 3 monitoring techniques were evaluated using the Bitterlich guage method, disturbance checklist transect, and 20-trees method. Professional scientists and trained community members both used the 3 techniques, and the results were compared for accuracy.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Bitterlich and disturbance checklist methods proved cost-effective and user friendly, with local participants able to collect data with relative accuracy, after only 1 day of training. Although community participation yielded positive results, discrepancies exist within the methodologies themselves, as the use of Bitterlick gave contradictory results compared to the disturbance cheklist. Due to small sample size, it was unclear whether the 20-tree method was a reliable measure. In order for this type of participatory monitoring to work, the monitoring techniques must be simple to perform for local community members without formal education, must be const-effective, and professional scientists must be willing to provide adequate foundational training




Holck MHooge. Participatory forest monitoring: an assessment of the accuracy of simple cost–effective methods. Biodiversity and Conservation. 2007;17:2023–2036. doi:10.1007/s10531-007-9273-4.


  • Hellerup, Denmark