Community Participation in Nature and Resource Conservation

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Collaboration in the Woods

Howard Silverman:

"In recent years, some U.S. National Forests have opened to greater public participation in their restoration, monitoring, and other activities. In the Pacific Northwest, this engagement has helped to alleviate conflicts that linger from the large forest harvests and spotted owl litigation of the 1980s and 1990s. “You need to check your guns at the door,” is a recollection I've heard more than once when interviewing forest stewardship (as the practice is often called) participants.

Similar projects are examined in the Resilience Alliance-published paper, “Adaptive Management and Social Learning in Collaborative and Community-Based (Forest) Monitoring.” Through structured interviews, the authors seek evidence of social learning among participants in eighteen community-based forest management projects around the Western U.S. They define social learning as "an intentional process of collective self-reflection through interaction and dialog among diverse participants." Their interviews find instances of reconnection to the landscape and of newfound trust among participants." (

Collaboration on the Oceans

Howard Silverman:

"California is the first U.S. state to designate marine protected areas: areas (of the state's coastal waters) where fishing and access are restricted. Ecotrust assists this process through the development of computer- and web-based tools to gather and compile catch and economic data from fishermen and other resource users. With these data, stakeholder groups can consider both economic and habitat information in their marine protected area proposals. The result has been that protected area designations meet the state's habitat objectives while reducing social and economic impacts on port communities. Gathering local knowledge from fishermen builds collaboration and transparency into the process of protected area planning – a process that has also experienced its share of conflict. I'm not aware yet of any formal studies of the social dynamics of California's marine area planning." (