Arthur Lyon Dahl Web Site


A do-it-yourself course and training programme

A.Introduction to the programme

B. Sensitization to environmental problems
B1. Problems in the rural environment 
B1d. Problems in the drylands environment 
B1m. Problems in the mountain environment 
B1i. Problems in the small island environment 
B2. Problems in the local environment
B3. Problems in the world environment
B4. Relevance of environment to immediate practical concerns
B5. Overview of traditional environmental management

C. Basic resources
C1. Geological origins of the land
C2. Water and the water cycle
C3. Soils
C4. Forests and their ecological importance
C5. Environmental management in agriculture
C6. Fisheries management
C7. Conservation of nature
C8. Coral reefs
C9. Lagoons
C10. Mangroves

D. Principles of ecology and resource management
D1. Time
D2. The weather
D3. Nutrient cycles
D4. Populations
D5. Microbes
D6. Water pollution

E. Traditional environmental management
E1. Traditional resource use and management
E2. Sorcery and science
E3. Salvaging and evaluating traditional knowledge

F. The human habitat
F1. The human habitat: basic needs
F2. Hygiene and sanitation
F3. Human habitat planning
F4. Disaster planning

G. Managing the local environment
G1. Resource inventories and mapping
G2. The environment in the past
G3. Predicting the future
G4. Planning

H. Techniques for research and monitoring
H1. Research: the scientific method
H2. Research and monitoring instruments and techniques: Rainfall, Temperature, Turbidity, Coral reef and fish monitoring, Forest monitoring, Soil analyses, Censusing and sampling
H3. Recording and analyzing data

I. Assessment of development projects
I1. Dealing with developers
I2. Principles of project assessment and monitoring
I3. Mining impacts
I4. Forestry impacts
I5. Agricultural impacts
I6. Fisheries industry impacts
I7. Tourism impacts

J. Communicating knowledge to others: Giving a simple talk, Teaching by example, Writing reports

K. Use as a training programme



Prepared by Arthur Lyon Dahl

This set of materials on rural environmental management aims to help people who live in rural areas to manage their own environment and to plan their own sustainable development. It is designed to be either a self-teaching course or to be used in local training programmes. Each unit therefore includes questions that can be used for group discussion. In training programmes it can be supplemented by audio-visual materials and local examples.

Much of this material was first developed for the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme in 1983 as a set of training materials in rural environmental management for small island communities. With the need to help rural communities around the world to address their environmental problems and become more sustainable, it has seemed appropriate to update the units and to generalize them to all rural situations, particularly in less developed and more tropical countries. However there is still some bias in the approaches and examples towards the Pacific Island situation.

The wider availability of this approach should inspire many people to take on their own responsibility for their local environment, and increase the involvement of major groups such as women, children and youth, farmers, local government officials, businesspeople and workers, religious leaders and ordinary people. While the approach in these units is basically scientific, there is no reason why everyone cannot learn and apply the scientific method using their own often profound knowledge of their environment. Too often we become dependent on government or outside experts for things that were frequently done quite well by earlier generations of villagers. But governments are limited in their resources and there are far too few experts to meet all the needs. These materials should help people to take back the responsibility and to become masters of their own future.

The original units included illustrations and supporting audiovisual materials that could not be converted for use on the Web with the resources available. Some illustrations will eventually be added if resources permit. Earlier revisions of these materials were made available on the UNEP Islands web site, and the present version is also available on the International Environment Forum web site (

Users are encouraged to duplicate and adapt these materials for local non-commercial use. Any other use requires written permission. Comments and feedback on the usefulness of these materials, and suggested modifications, should be sent to:

Arthur Lyon Dahl
12B Chemin de Maisonneuve
CH-1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland  

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Updated 8 June 2010