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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Generating and assessing forest land use options: a case study of the Clayoquot Sound sustainable development strategy Hart, Denise Norma


This thesis examines how stakeholder values should be clarified in consensus-based processes in order to provide the framework for the generation of options, the collection of technical information and the assessment of options. The specific context is forest land use planning in British Columbia, particularly with respect to creating protected areas. A case study approach was used. The case study used was the Clayoquot Sound Sustainable Development Strategy Committee planning process (begun in January 1991). This particular case study was chosen because it was the first effort to use negotiations to provide advice to the provincial government on a regional sustainable development issue. It was also highly contentious and very public, therefore it is reasonably well-documented. One of the major flaws in how options were generated and assessed in this process was that insufficient time was spent clarifying stakeholders' values and underlying interests. This had repercussions throughout the negotiations. The problem was not well-defined and this meant it was difficult to generate options that met stakeholders' objectives. Option generation was hasty and was rooted in the status quo. In addition, technical information was collected at the beginning of the process, before objectives were clarified or options generated. This meant there was not a clear idea of how the information would be used to support the decision-making, and resulted in reports heavily loaded with descriptive information. Assessing the options generated was also subject to flaws: the first was that the analysis was based on values that were largely implicit and came primarily from technical experts. The second was that the status quo (the current state of conditions) was used to assess the impacts of proposed options. This led to the consistent overestimate of jobs losses caused by the reduction in harvest level associated with withdrawal of forest land from the commercial land base. Despite these difficulties, this process greatly increased stakeholders' understanding of both the technical issues involved and the difficulties of governing. The social learning aspect of the process is an important legacy and may make future decision-making processes in the area easier. However, improvements in the generation and assessment of options are needed to improve negotiations. Importantly, the problem needs to be well-defined and well-structured. To achieve this, the objectives hierarchy approach is promoted here. It is relatively simple to use in practice, and forces stakeholders' to examine their values and underlying interests. This means that they are more able to generate options that. meet these. interests (rather than their well-entrenched positions). To help move beyond the status quo to create imaginative options, it also useful to ask stakeholders to think about how to achieve their objectives. Once objectives have been clarified and imaginative options have been generated, then the technical information required to assess options can be identified and collected. This leads to the collection of more functional, and less descriptive, information which will be more useful to inform the decision-making. When assessing options, uncertainty in the data, and implicit judgments by technical experts should be made explicit and bounded with probabilities. This improves confidence in the data. Lastly, the base case, which incorporates current trends and is a more reliable predictor of future conditions than the status quo, should be used as a basis for comparing options. It is especially important to consider the effects of declining rates of employment due to mechanization and the fall-down effect in the base case scenario, in order to get a more realistic estimate of the true jobs losses due to reduced harvests, with and without land withdrawals.

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