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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An examination of the role of group dynamics in a multi-stakeholder, consensus land use planning process Mou, Desirée M.


In March 2001, after more than four years of negotiations, participants in the Lillooet Land and Resource Management Planning (LRMP) process failed to reach consensus on a single plan for the Lillooet forest district and instead produced two plans they submitted to government. Up until this point, other LRMP in the province had reached consensus, so why did participants in the Lillooet LRMP process fail in their attempts? What can we learn from this? I address these questions by drawing on four years of participant-observation, various secondary sources of information, and in-depth interviews with core participants. I focus on the dynamics created by the province's requirement that this particular consensus, multi-stakeholder process include both local and outside interests. This requirement was peculiar to the Lillooet LRMP process. The Lillooet LRMP was a process pulled in different directions by local and outside interests. One of the main points of departure among participants was over the issue of Protected Areas. Fundamentally different views on what the Lillooet forest district needs to survive and the role of Protected Areas in that vision led to the formation of sub-groups at the Table. These sub-groups had difficulty trusting one another and so were unable to work together to produce a land use plan. Failure to address this underlying conflict ultimately led to an unraveling from the consensus-oriented approach into mediation and eventually arbitration. The final plans, one produced by local, and outside industrial interests, and the other primarily by outside conservation and recreation groups, reflect the reality of local dependence on the forest industry. Further, they reveal some of the difficulties of requiring both local and outside interests to participate in multi-stakeholder consensus processes. These findings have implications at the policy and process level. While policy dictates that LRMP must be open to all interested parties, it must be recognized that including both local and outside interests in this type of process is a design trade-off and will likely create barriers to reaching consensus on a single plan. In such a case, it is particularly important to directly address the role of group development during the process, to help participants make the transition from working in their respective subgroups to working as part of a larger Table. Care must be taken to avoid reinforcing sub-group differences and building into the process what might be perceived as structural inequalities. Yet conflict must be. exploited to help sub-groups establish a common framework for working together. Finally, failure to reach consensus during the planning process should not be seen as a failure. Provided differences among sub-groups are not exacerbated, the outcome of the process can be useful to decision-making.

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