Public involvement in forest management and planning in Manitoba : the role of stakeholder advisory committees (SACs)

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McGurk, Brett C.
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It is now widely accepted that public involvement is a critical component of sustainable forest management (SFM). However, achieving meaningful participation continues to be a challenge. Problems with public involvement in SFM tend to be directed at the continued use of passive involvement techniques such as open houses by forest products companies (FPCs) and governments at the expense of more participatory methods. In an effort to provide more active involvement, many FPCs have started to use an advisory committee approach. There are few empirical studies, however, that evaluate advisory committee processes, and that clarify the roles of such committees in forest management and planning. The purpose of the study was to help fill these gaps. The specific objectives were to: 1) establish the degree of overall success of stakeholder advisory committees (SACs) in forest management and planning in Manitoba; 2) determine the involvement techniques used in the advisory committee processes and identify the preferred techniques; 3) consider whether informal learning occurred among the participants on the committees; 4) determine what barriers exist to involvement on the committees; and 5) provide recommendations on how to improve the public involvement capabilities of SAC's in SFM. The study focused on the advisory committees of the three FPCs that hold forest management licences in Manitoba, Canada: Tembec, located in Pine Falls; Louisiana-Pacific, in Swan River; and Tolko, based in The Pas. A qualitative research approach was used to address the goals of the research, including: l) standardized open-ended interviews with selected members of each committee (N=25); 2) a meeting with key...