Strategies and Tools for Effective Public Participation in Natural Resource Management
Keywords:Public participation, direct and indirect tools, participation continuum, “SMARRT” objectives, breadth and depth of tools
Public participation is widely recognized as a critical aspect of natural resource management (NRM), and is a regulatory requirement for a variety of environmental and NRM processes. Research and experience from natural resource management worldwide have proven that public participation leads to better decisions, - by providing local or independent sources of information and by examining alternative management strategies and builds trust. It also reduces uncertainties, delays, conflicts, and legal costs. This article seeks to provide an understanding of basic concepts and best practices of public participation, familiarity with different tools that can be used for effective public participation, and an awareness of which tools are appropriate under different circumstances. It is aimed to address the needs of resource managers who work with communities and First Nations, and whose job requires them to engage the public in resource planning and management. Many practitioners “do” participation every day, but many do not have the opportunity to reflect on their practice or to contemplate ways to do it better. The article offers this opportunity, and provides practitioners with useful knowledge and tools that could help them engage communities and the public to make sound management decisions.
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