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Social values and resource management

September 20th, 2004

Horizons (Fundy Model Forest Newsletter)
Summer 2004 edition
As published on page 6

The role of social values in forest management was the subject of an industry workshop held in Fredericton recently. Entitled 'Ensuring Resource Management Reflects Social Values,' the workshop was held at the University of New Brunswick and attracted some 40 participants from environmental organizations, government, industry and academia from across the Maritimes.

The objective of the daylong event, organized by the Fundy Model Forest, was to provide a venue for experts to present work they've done in this field and to receive feedback on that work. A workshop was included as a part of the event as a means to elicit perspectives of practitioners and to get a better understanding of the challenges of integrating social values into resource management decisions. Presentations on the social components of resource management were made by: Dr. Thomas Beckley and Dr. Shawn Dalton, University of New Brunswick; Dr. Solange Nadeau, Canadian Forest Service; and Dr. R.A. Lautenschlager, Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Center.

After the presentations, a panel discussion and the workshop addressed practical approaches for capturing and incorporating social values in resource management. The participants were then asked to build models that set a course for the future.

Grassroots approach

"It was interesting that we had four workshop groups and each came up with very similar approaches to having social values reflected in resource management - namely to have grassroots-oriented committees at the community-level assess what the social values are and to have a mechanism whereby those priorities are transferred to policy-makers in the provincial government," explains Nairn Hay, General Manager of the Fundy Model Forest.

"There was also a consensus that this had to be a continuous process; it was not something that could be done once. There is a need to continually define what social values are and to determine how important they are with respect to economic issues and ecological issues."

Ian Taviss, Management Forester with J.D. Irving, Limited a major forestry and paper products company with interests in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Maine, was among a handful of industry people at the workshop. He said industry players welcomed input from stakeholders but said it is often difficult to get continuous commitment from people. "There seems to be lack of understanding with respect to the level of commitment required to participate in resource management planning at the level the audience seemed to desire," Mr. Taviss says.

"Perhaps, these observations are a reflection of the need for government and industry to intensify our efforts." Michael Kennedy, a Masters of Science student studying Forestry and Environmental management at the University of New Brunswick noted that the question may be less about whether to solicit stakeholder input but at what juncture in the process to ask for the input.

"If someone said to you, 'Do you value forests for wildlife?' you would probably agree that wildlife is important and is a necessary part of the environment. But if someone asked you, 'What do you value more? Wildlife or a high standard of living?' well, this is a harder question to answer

"Discussing social values, therefore, is discussing the trade-offs that may need to be considered in decisions like this and perhaps that is the level at which input from all stakeholders is important and I am not sure is currently measured." Mr. Hay agreed that long-term commitment is a barrier to many people getting involved in contributing to opinions on social values and forestry:

"It is true, people are hesitant to get involved in what may seem to be an academic process. But certainly what we have here is a start."

Media Contact: Moira Finn Manager, Communications & Publications
Tel.: +1 506 450-1511

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