El Nido Foundation and El Nido LGU members practice a focus group discussion at Puerto Princesa. (Picture: M. King)

In-country partners train for focus groups

Before facilitating their first focus group discussions (FGDs) with leaders from local barangays our in-country partners get to rehearse with the CCRES Systems Thinking team.

The FGDs seek to gain an understanding of how communities use and interact with ecosystem services, and how these interactions, along with external factors, have led to problems such as resource degradation, resource-use conflicts, failed or dwindling livelihoods or persistent poverty.

The data collected at these sessions will be used to map the links between ecological and socio-economic systems and identify how ecosystem services can be maintained or enhanced.

Our Philippines partners El Nido Foundation, El Nido LGU, Palawan State University and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development rehearsed at Puerto Princesa during February.

The training of FGD partner in Indonesia, IPB Bogor, which will run sessions with community leaders at our pilot site at Selayar, South Sulawesia, also occurred last month.

Dr Carl Smith, Mr Siham Afatta and Dr Russell Richards, all from The University of Queensland, train our FGD partners how to use a new iPad App developed by the CCRES team called SESAMME (Socio-Ecological Systems App for Mental Model Elicitation).

SESAMME allows focus group teams to build socio-ecological system models with stakeholder groups in a visually-interactive way using drag and drop icons and Google maps.

Systems thinking is the science of understanding the relationship between the behaviour of a system and its structure. The structure of a system is made up of system components and their interactions. These interactions determine how the system behaves, so if we can unravel these interactions then we can better predict and manage system behaviour.

Our FGD partners are supplied with iPads, the SESAMME App, portable LCD pico projectors (which do not require a power source) and voice recorders, to support on-site discussions.