The Canadian Federal Alien Invasive Species Strategy calls for the territories and provinces to develop protocols for the early detection of newly arriving and spreading non-indigenous species. Citizen Science is increasingly seen as making an important contribution. The involvement of community members in these kinds of activities will be essential, especially in those areas of Canada with low population density, such as the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunvavut.
We reviewed existing community-based programs and protocols for the detection of plants and insects from North America and Europe, with an emphasis on northern USA and Canada. We also surveyed members of three communities in the Northwest Territories: Fort Good Hope, Fort Simpson and Inuvik, in Fall 2008, to ask about the experience of local people with non-indigenous plants and insects: whether they have found them, and attempted to report them, and what kind of reporting systems and supports for community-based detection of non-indigenous species, they would need to see put in place.
There are many existing community-based monitoring protocols, and a great deal of them are web-based. They range from requiring a fairly advanced level of expertise with species identification to those that provide description and identification for the existing invasive species of concern.
Most community members surveyed in Fort Good Hope, Fort Simpson and Inuvik had heard of the issue of invasive species and were willing to contribute to reporting. The Environment and Natural Resources Office, Elders and Renewable Resource Boards were most often identified as recipients of information. People surveyed often preferred to make the report in person, locally, although there was willingness to report through internet-based forms. Therefore a protocol that uses multiple channels is recommended. The importance of having reliable information on which plants and insects are indigenous was frequently cited along with the need for two-way flows of information exchange, with frequent reporting back to communities.