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Examining the Interaction Between Geographic Scale and Ways of Knowing in Ecosystem Management: A Case Study of Place-Based Collaborative Planning

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This article examines the interaction between geographic scale and ways of knowing in the context of collaborative stakeholder participation in ecosystem analysis and management. The examination uses data from a qualitative comparative case study of two watershed councils in western Oregon. The results tentatively support the proposition that geographic scale can significantly affect individual stakeholder ways of knowing. For small-scale places, stakeholder ways of knowing tend to be particularistic and rely on diverse personal experiences and specific place features; for large-scale places, stakeholder ways of knowing tend to be aesthetic and rely primarily on recreational experiences and scientific analyses. However, the results also indicate that geographic scale combines with at least three factors to affect the development of shared ways of knowing: (1) tensions between experts and laypersons; (2) primacy of organizational representation in stakeholder interactions; and (3) discovery of common group identity based on long-term communication and shared on-the-ground experiences, such as field trips. This examination suggests that geographic scale in ecosystem management is likely an important factor affecting working relationships in a collaborative stakeholder participation process. These relationships, in turn, can affect the perceived credibility and legitimacy of outcomes. FOR. SCI. 49(6):841–854.

Keywords: Collaboration; environmental management; expert-lay divide; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; group identity; natural resource management; natural resources; place; planning

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor Forestry and Natural Resource Policy, Department of Forest, Rangeland, Watershed Stewardship, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, 80523-1472, Phone: 970-491-1900; Fax: 970-491-6754 2: Director Western Rural Development Center, UMCC 8355, Utah State University, Logan, UT, 84322-8355, Phone: 435-797-9732

Publication date: 2003-12-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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