While there is an increasing demand for active public involvement in forestry decision-making, there are as yet few successful models for achieving this in the new sustainable forest management (SFM) context. This paper describes the special needs of forest managers conducting participatory SFM planning in a sometimes-polarized public context, and outlines criteria for designing decision-support processes to meet these needs. These criteria were used to develop a new approach to public participation in British Columbia, by means of a pilot study using multi-criteria analysis of forest management scenarios while integrating public priorities. Researchers, working with stakeholder groups in the Arrow Forest District, obtained public weightings of criteria and indicators for SFM. Alternative forest management scenarios were presented using realistic 3D landscape visualisations. Modelling-based expert evaluations of the scenarios were weighted according to the priorities of the stakeholder groups, in order to test implications for scenario preferences. There was considerable commonality of results among groups, with general agreement between experts and stakeholder groups on scenario preferences. Based on the results and participant evaluations, techniques such as this appear effective as decision-support tools in conflict-prone areas. Pilot studies like these can play a vital role in developing a more comprehensive, engaging, open and accountable process to support informed and socially acceptable decision-making for sustainable forest management.

Contact Information
Contact Person: 
Stephen R.J. Sheppard
Contact Organization: 
Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP), Department of Forest Resources Management and Centre for Landscape Research, University of British Columbia
Publication Information
Author: 
Stephen R.J. Sheppard
Michael Meitner
Publication Year: 
2005
DOE Information
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