Leena A. Leskinen
Finnish Forest Research Institute, P.O. Box 68, FIN-80101 Joensuu, Finland
Received 26 August 2002. Revised 27 January 2003. Accepted 3 February 2003. Available online 21 May 2003.
Public participation in regional and local forest planning in Finland was researched. The questions were: (1) What is the purpose of public participation? (2) What are the challenges of public participation? The results are based on the analysis of discourse communities in a case study concerning a Regional Forest Programme and forest management planning. It was shown that the purpose of participation was to promote communication at the regional level and to gather information at the local level. The general conclusion is, that the regional forest programmes include practices to offer possibilities for communication among participants. This does not mean, that all the programme processes have reached consensus automatically. The case studied here reached compromise. The case study points out problems faced, if public participation would become common practice at the local level on non-industrial private forests lands. In forest management planning it would result in an excessively demanding mediator/expert role for the planner. The need to consider all relevant issues, e.g. biodiversity management, would also become apparent. The study supports the idea that public participation as communication has better possibilities to promote sustainable forest management than public participation as information gathering.
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