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Social Learning and Building Trust through a Participatory Design for Natural Resource Planning

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Collaborative approaches to the management and planning of forest and natural resource systems have received much attention as managers adjust to an increasingly complex and turbulent society. Empirical studies are needed that evaluate new forms of collaborative management and assess initiative outcomes. Trail planning and management systems on the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia provided a unique opportunity to design and evaluate a participatory design known as a search conference. This article reports on the design, execution, and outcome-based assessment of a trails search conference, examining specifically the impact of the conference on social learning and trust building outcomes. Generally, the search conference was well received and social learning as well as trust building did occur. Resource managers are encouraged to use a search conference format to explore diverse perspectives on a set of management issues or identifying the range of concerns that different people have.

Keywords: collaborative planning; environment; national forests; natural resources; search conference

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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