Developing a community-based environmental monitoring program for butter clams in Metlakatla territory

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Community-based environmental monitoring (CBEM) offers locally adapted and culturally relevant methods that Indigenous peoples, and others, can use to lead or participate in natural resource decision-making. Explicitly incorporating community values and local and Traditional Knowledge into monitoring programs can provide social, cultural and environmental benefits. In collaboration with Metlakatla First Nation, I designed and tested a monitoring protocol for butter clams (Saxidomus gigantea), which are highly valued by Metlakatla people. The CBEM protocol for butter clams supports Metlakatla’s efforts to track and manage cumulative effects by collecting baseline data on butter clams in Metlakatla territory. This research demonstrates that CBEM is an effective approach for collecting data that will be used to inform local environmental decision-making. Based on this initial application of the CBEM protocol, I make recommendations to inform Metlakatla’s approach to monitoring additional environmental components, and to guide other Indigenous communities seeking to develop community-based approaches to monitoring.
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