The Role of the Interaction Indicators in the Regional Programme
The co-construction of interaction indicators is organized in several phases over three years. During the first phase (October - November 2004) the programme of co-construction has been launched in three biosphere reserves - Mare aux Hippopotames (Burkina Faso), Boucle du Baoulé (Mali) and W du Niger (Niger). The same has been done in the other sites (Comoé - Côte d'Ivoire, Niokolo Koba - Senegal, Pendjari - Benin)
The co-construction of the interaction indicators is carried out in two steps. The first takes into consideration the interactions which have a direct or indirect impact on the evolution of biodiversity. This includes the ecological interactions, the interaction between human activities and the dynamics of the biodiversity, but also the social interaction regarding the biodiversity.
The second step involves, within the framework of the interaction indicators co-construction process, the representatives of all activities existing in biosphere reserves. The objective is to abandon classic "expert methods" in favour of an approach which would take into account the variety of the perceptions concerning the uses of the biodiversity, so as to produce operational and justifiable indicators for all parties.
The dialogue between the scientists and the villagers, which is supposed to provide the information for indicators construction, is based on a number of simple questions:
- Which stakeholders utilize the reserve's natural resources to meet their needs?
- Which are the six main stakeholders on the list?
- What are the reserve's resources for each of these stakeholders?
- What relationships exist among these resources?
- How do stakeholders procure, collect and/or make use of these resources? And what do they do with these resources? And with whom?
- What relationships exist among these stakeholders regarding the reserve's resources?
- On the basis of what information, criteria and constraints do stakeholders make decisions concerning their activities?
- What signs reveal that resources are more abundant or more scarce in the reserve?
The dialogue is facilitated by the mediators who have been recognized as legitimate by local communities as well as reserve managers. Familiar with biosphere reserves, they are selected, most of the time, among the animators of the ecological projects. Their work is based on the utilization of mediation tools (icons, figurines, charts/tables, role-playing, etc.) that enable local communities, most of the time illiterate, to express their viewpoints and to better appropriate the interaction indicators.
For better understanding of the biodiversity there is a need to take into consideration two important elements: users of biodiversity and resources which represent the biodiversity. These two elements provide the opportunity to draw up tables based on social and ecological interactions.
The interaction indicators built during the first phase of the project will be tested in the Component 2 which aims to use the biosphere reserves as operational sites of the sustainable development including conservation, combating poverty and sustainable use of the biological resources. This phase, which will take place in the demonstration sites identified by each country, will provide the managers and the local communities with a tool for decision making on resources management.