From Elder's Knowledge to Co-Management Utilizing Participatory Action Research (PAR) and a Geogrraphic Information System (GIS)

FROM ELDER'S KNOWLEDGE TO CO-MANAGEMENT UTILIZING PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH (PAR) AND A GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM (GIS) - An Article Review
Robinson, Mike and Ozzie Sawicki. 1996. "From Elders' Knowledge to Co-Management Utilizing Participatory Action Research (PAR) and a Geopgraphical Information System (GIS)" Sustainable Forestry Partnerships: Forging a Network of Excellence. Pp. 122-128.

Mike Robinson and Ozzie Sawicki, both of the Arctic Institute of North America, provide a basic but detailed explanation of how participatory action research (PAR) and geographical information systems (GIS) can be combined to form a powerful resource decision-making tool. By joining PAR and GIS, traditional ecological knowledge and western scientific knowledge can be fused together. By incorporating both knowledge systems into decision-making, sustainability and economic development can be realized.

Robinson and Sawicki stress the importance of PAR as a research method when mapping cultural land use and developing co-management plans.The primary goal of a PAR project is to contribute towards community development via adult education. Essentially, PAR is process by which researchers/trainers will enter a community with the objective of training local members until the trainers are no longer needed – the community can solve problems locally without relying on external assistance. Because the community is the core to any PAR project, the original problem must be defined by the community, the research must involve the entire community and the problem must be solved by the community.

The article goes on to provide a very informative overview of GI,S including hardware and software requirements and GPS. The authors describe three GIS systems, low, medium, and high cost systems, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. In addition, Robinson and Sawicki define the key terms of GIS systems and list the key requirements that every GIS should include. They tailor this discussion towards small communities that seek an efficient and effective computer-based GIS.

"From Elder’s Knowledge to Co-Management Utilizing Participatory Action Research (PAR) and a Geographic Information System (GIS)" is a thorough overview of a research methodology that seeks to promote healthy communities by allowing them to become self-reliant and economically independent.

Review by Leah McMillin

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