The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 3, Number 1, Dec. 2004
Institute of anthropology (University of Copenhagen), Frederiksholms Kanal, 4, DK-1220 Copenhagen K.
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Tel: 35 32 34 73
Abstract: There is today a consensus around the fact that local development should address the needs and priorities of local actors in order to be successful. However, the identification of local needs, understood in their context, is far from easy. This article reviews different ranking methods used within PETREA, an action-research programme aimed at improving local livelihoods through improving access to trees and tree products. It is argued that none of the existing ranking methods, taken alone, can claim to identify local needs. Only an interdisciplinary approach can hope to provide a full-picture and an in-depth understanding of the local context. But interdisciplinary collaborations are rendered difficult by the institutional settings in which they are developed. Instead of being seen as complementary, the different academic traditions can be seen as opposed, especially when scientists struggle to secure their participation in a project with limited funding, or when they feel challenged about the legitimacy of their methods and focus. The danger is that they end up defending their own interests rather than those of their target population. Interdisciplinary action research meets the same challenges as other types of research when it comes to integrating local participation within its approach.
Key words: Interdisciplinary collaboration, ranking methods, participation, need assessment, Trees, Agroforestry
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