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Developing Resource-Based Social Conflict Models for Assessing the Utility of Negotiation in Conflict Resolution

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Social conflicts over the management of natural resources are increasing. An informative example of these conflicts is the debate over the management of our national forests. Despite sincere efforts by the USDA Forest Service to improve modes of public involvement, as well as the institutionalization of dispute resolution procedures, the contentiousness and frequency of conflict continues to escalate. This is manifest in the high number of administrative appeals on forest plans and projects. The study used a nation-wide survey of 238 appellants (response rate of 75%) of Forest Service management decisions to test the predictive utility of social conflict models for determining the feasibility of negotiation in resolving environmental conflict. This paper addresses the question of whether the utility of negotiation can be predicted based on (1) the resources involved in the dispute, (2) how those resources are being utilized, and (3) the perceived impact on social, economic, and health issues. The social conflict models proved to have some utility in predicting the types of conflict that may be predisposed to resolution through negotiation. For. Sci. 45(3):394-406.

Keywords: Environmental dispute resolution; collaborative planning; community of interest; public participation; quality of resolution

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Associate Professor, Faculty of Forestry, State University of New York-College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY 13210-, Fax: (315) 460-6535

Publication date: August 1, 1999

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