important because as program components they can contribute to the focus on ecosystem monitoring. Local residents possess valuable ecological knowledge—information that can be directly incorporated into established scientific models. Local residents can be a source of important research questions and can help assure that research is relevant to both ecological and community needs. In addition, local participants offer potential efficiencies in data collection efforts. Local participants are likely to be critical to the success of any stewardship goals associated with the GEM program. Local participation can build constituent support for the GEM program, which is important for a program intended to operate for centuries. Such a partnership has proven successful in Nova Scotia, with the formation of the Fisherman and Scientist Research Society (Box 5–1).
The committee is not alone in recognizing the practical significance of traditional knowledge to contemporary sciences such as ecology, conservation, biology, pharmaceuticals, forestry, fish, and wildlife sciences. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN, 1986) lists the following arenas in which traditional knowledge can prove useful to science and environmental applications: new biological insights, resource management, conservation education, reserve design and management, development planning, environmental assessment, and commodity development. Traditional knowledge also has strong potential for informing the science of ecological restoration (Martinez, 1994; Kimmerer, 2000). Ford (2001) suggests that traditional knowledge plays a vital role in ecological monitoring and early warning signs of ecosystem change.
In sum, one answer to the “why” question is that it is in the best interests of the GEM program goals to incorporate community involvement and traditional knowledge. This is a profoundly utilitarian rationale—locals can help the program—but it is potentially a source of foundation for future problems. Such issues should be approached cautiously by the Trustee Council with careful attention given to the cultural and social significance of the participation of the residents of Prince William Sound in the GEM program. Indeed, it appears that the noticeable retreat of communities from GEM program planning activities arises from the perceptions that the relationship between science programs and communities has been relatively one-sided in the past, and that the GEM program will continue this relationship in the future.
The issue of the relationship between the traditional scientific community and the communities of the Exxon Valdez oil spill region presents a second broad rationale for incorporation of community involvement and traditional knowledge into the GEM program. The second rationale rests on an equity argument, which is distinct from the utilitarian rationale above. The GEM program, like the Trustee Council itself, is a result of settlement funds dedicated to restoration of an ecosystem damaged by a