Transformation in governance: the evolution of Manitoba's forest policy regime

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Griffith, Jodi
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The introduction of sustainable forest management has fostered international change in forest management and policy because economic, environmental and social forest values are now recognized as interconnected components that ought to be balanced. However, the degree to which these values and related ideas have become embedded in Manitoba’s forest policy regime and the extent to which they have led to change in forest management and policy development is unclear. Through semi-directed interviews and a qualitative document review, change in the values and ideas that guide Manitoba’s forest policy regime were identified. The most important changes have been recognition of ecological values and social components of forestry through forest guidelines and policies. Logging in most of Manitoba’s provincial parks has been legally prohibited through the Forest Act. However significant this change to legislation it can be marked as the only significant change to forest legislation in Manitoba in terms of recognizing values beyond traditional forestry activities. Entrenched forestry institutions, such as long-term tenure arrangements, have limited the amount and pace of change in the regime. The number of actors with interests in Manitoba’s forest policy regime has expanded, but participation in decision making remains restricted. Institutional inertia provides a stable system in which policy change follows a normal or incremental pattern of change. However, there is potential for paradigmatic policy change to occur. Paradigmatic change can occur when new actors are invited into the policy network during periods of conflict or when new actors promote their interests and these become pursued within the policy network or when incremental change occurs cumulatively in one direction. In Manitoba’s forest policy regime, escalated concerns could turn into conflict creating an opportunity for new actors. In fact, existing government actors are slowly recognizing the interests of Aboriginal actors, which could represent incremental steps towards Aboriginal forestry
forest, policy