Testing focus groups as a tool for connecting indigenous and local knowledge on abundance of natural resources with science-based land management systems

One of the clearly stated intentions of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is to bring both “western scientific” and “indigenous and local” knowledge systems within synthetic global, regional, and thematic assessments. A major challenge will be how to use, and quality-assure, information derived from different knowledge systems. We test how indigenous and local knowledge on natural resources in Miskito and Mayangna communities in Nicaragua, validated through focus groups with community members, compares with information collected on line transects by trained scientists. Both provide comparable data on natural resource abundance, but focus groups are eight times cheaper. Such approaches could increase the amount and geographical scope of information available for assessments at all levels, while simultaneously empowering indigenous and local communities who generally have limited engagement in such processes.