This literature review analyzes relevant considerations from peer-reviewed academic journal articles specific to multiple user conflicts on public lands as applied to a select group of winter outdoor recreation activities. Managers of public lands face potential user conflicts from stakeholder groups who participate in non-complementary activities in regions where multiple stakeholder groups frequent. In order to effectively facilitate positive interactions between disparate stakeholder groups, land managers may select strategies from a tool-kit of considerations and practices that have been revealed in the articles.
The development of policy frameworks for the balanced access and use of public lands for commercial and non-commercial winter outdoor recreationists provides complex challenges to effectively address the interests of identified stakeholder groups. During the process of researching the literature, relevant subjects were identified for consideration, including: the identification of issues which contribute to potential user conflicts, evolving community attitudes and societal values regarding the perception and importance of nature amenities, and availability and allocation of strategies and resources to effectively manage and support stakeholder group interactions.
Many rural and semi-rural communities throughout the Province of British Columbia have been experiencing a general decline in traditional resource-extraction based economic. As a result, numerous commercial recreational stakeholders have assessed the viability of enhancing commercial outdoor recreational opportunities in these communities (Nepal 2004, p4). This has been driven by perceptions of forest degradation and demand for non-forestry utilization of public lands, leading to the origins of sustainable forest management, aiming to maintain the environment, while supporting growth of financial, social and cultural opportunities (Owen, Duinker, & Beckley, 2008, p2).
Nature amenities provide numerous benefits to winter outdoor recreationists and those in the tourism industry who facilitate and provide opportunities for those recreationists. This symbiotic relationship therefore supports the needs of commercial outdoor recreation interests in addition to the general public. Grey, Duwors, Villeneuve, Boyd, & Legg (2003, p144) explained further:
Canada is the seventh most popular tourist destination in the world, and many visitors come to experience the county’s diverse ecosystems and the plants and animals found in them. This provides powerful socioeconomic incentives to maintain, and where possible, enhance plant and animal populations and habitats through job creation and capital investment.
In contrast, stakeholder groups who plan on expanding their interests in commercial recreation development as a means of taking advantage of the growth trend in tourism need to be cognizant of potential risks in addition to the opportunities. Winter outdoor recreation is an important economic driver for regional economies and recent information about the threat of global climate change on this sector may have negative financial impacts on stakeholder interests (Scott, Dawson, & Jones, 2008, p577). Furthermore, Ostrom 1990; Pedersen 1993; Abrahamsson 1998; Hultkrantz & Mortazavi 1998 advised: “Landscape use can lead to land deterioration; as tourist landscapes exhibit resource subtractability and open access, they are a common-pool resource. Like other commons, tourist landscapes are vulnerable to overuse and deterioration” (Antilla & Stern 2005, p455).
The competition for access to and use of outdoor recreation resources by the general public and commercial recreation stakeholder groups has been demonstrated through increased conflicts by non-complimentary stakeholder interest groups. The growth in outdoor recreational activities has exposed the need for more contemporary management policies and resources to respond to the dynamism of stakeholder management (Nepal 2004, p4). Without proactive initiative and collaboration, Brooks & Champ (2006, p795) indicated that, “Unmanaged recreation presents a challenge to recreation researchers and managers because it is shrouded in radical uncertainty, which results from disagreement over the definition of the problem, the strategies for resolution, and the outcomes of management.” This was further clarified by Brooks & Champ (2005, p285)who “define the unmanaged recreation phenomenon as a broad environmental decision and management problem, involving multiple stakeholders and numerous outdoor recreation activities and conflicts, occurring simultaneously in and around urbanizing National Forests.” The complexity of attempting to effectively manage these user conflicts was further explained by Mansfield, Phaneuf, Reed Johnson, Yang, & Beach (2008, p 282):
Federal public lands management in the United States, by tradition and statute, has emphasized multiple uses. Many of these uses are complementary. Non-consumptive recreation activities, such as hiking and bird watching, are enhanced by undisturbed wilderness ambience and healthy wildlife populations. Often, however, the uses for which public lands are managed are directly competing.
In some cases, a stakeholder group may not have commercial or even recreational interests, however; their concerns may offer significant sway in influencing the decisions of land managers. Seep, Johnson, & Watts (2007, p1539) noted: “Many areas of mountain caribou winter habitat experience intensive use by recreational snowmobilers… We conclude that intensive snowmobiling has displaced caribou from an area of suitable habitat.”
Open Communication with Adaptive Capabilities
In order to suitably address regions of relatively unmanaged recreation, Brooks & Champ (2006, p795) suggested, “Overcoming [unmanaged recreation] requires a local social process that involves inclusive communication and collective action among all stakeholders with an interest in local recreation management.” Moors & Dolter (2002), Burton et al.( 2003), Messier et al.( 2003) advised that the development of collaborative management plans requires an open public consultation process with adaptive capabilities in order to effectively respond to and incorporate evolving societal values, with a focus on addressing competing interests (Roberts, Simon, & Deering, 2006, p876).
“Since 1990, there has been more focus on sustainable management, with commitments to ecosystem-based management, an open public consultation process and an adaptive management approach to concerns” (Roberts et al., 2006, p876). These comments offer information that highlights the transition towards more inclusive and sustainable community-based processes. In addition, while Moores & Dolter 2002; Burton et al. 2003; Messier et al. 2003, supported this statement by describing that this process incorporates a more adaptive management approach with consideration for society’s values. They advised: “To incorporate society’s social needs, forest management must plan for a suite of often competing social, economic and ecological values at large scales” (Roberts et al, 2006, p876).
Supporting Roberts et al.’s (2006) assertions, Grey et al. (2003, p132) clarified that the evolution of societal values encompass: “cultural and social identity and awareness values, psychological values, educational values, scientific values, economic values, subsistence values, existence or vicarious values.” Furthermore, Grey et al. asserted that; “even though some Canadians spend little time in nature, they take pleasure and comfort in knowing that it exists, and option or future values.” Grey et al reinforce the growing importance of outdoor recreation and wilderness as holding complex values and intertwined importance to Canadians.
Temporal Considerations, Dynamism, and Influence
Wartick & Mahon (1994) suggested identifying and involving all significant stakeholders early in the planning process: “Although it was virtually ignored until now in any explicit sense in the stakeholder literature, the idea of paying attention to various stakeholder relationships in a timely fashion has been a focus of issues management”, then qualified this statement with: “However, although time sensitivity is necessary, it is not sufficient to identify a stakeholder’s claim or “manager relationship” as urgent” (Mitchell, Agle, & Wood, 1997, p867).
Mitchell et al. (1997) advised land manager not to bow to time pressures imposed by stakeholder groups, but rather to focus on the dynamic nature of the negotiation process while remaining attentive to potential shifting power influence from the various stakeholder interests. Mitchell et al. (1997) further suggested that managers of collaborative processes need to be cognizant of the dynamism of stakeholder positioning and the relevant issues on the table in order to ensure that negotiations meet ultimate objectives while ensuring sufficient integration of stakeholder group needs.
In addition to timing considerations for stakeholder integration, Mitchell et al. (1997, p879) explained dynamism as it relates more to stakeholder positioning: “latent stakeholders can increase their salience to managers and move into the “expectant stakeholder” category by acquiring just one of the missing attributes”; essentially increasing their influence in the negotiation process.
Savage, Nix, Whitehead, & Blair (1991, p62) discussed stakeholder diagnosis: “The literature often fails to classify types of stakeholders and delineate strategies for management. Stakeholders’ significance depends upon the situation and the issues and managers must have appropriate methods to deal with different stakeholders.” Savage et al (1991, p63) explained issues and dynamic influences in further support of this:
Issue specificity suggests that stakeholder diagnosis is an ongoing activity. Executives constantly need to assess stakeholders’ interests, capabilities, and needs. Without an appropriate framework, managers are likely to respond in the traditional ad hoc manner to stakeholders – greasing the squeaky wheel.
More specifically, Savage et al. (1991, p72) recommended going beyond identifying organizational stakeholders by examining a stakeholders’ potential for threat, cooperation and their emerging needs. Plans may have to be modified to involve them or to sidestep problems that may occur when an organization is overwhelmed by stakeholders. “They must develop the organizations’ capacity for strategic stakeholder management rather than concentrating only on effectively dealing with a particular stake holder on a specific issue.”
Furthermore, according to Lord & Elmendorf (2008, p87) the leaders of recreation organizations are often invited to participate in the recreation planning process because they are presumed to be aware of the needs of all recreationists who partake in similar recreational activities. However, they cautioned that when public agencies encourage recreational organizations to participate in the recreation planning process they run the risk of “general lack of support to possible conflict, legal concerns and efforts to block actions. This research was conducted to alert public agency planners and the representatives of interest groups advising them of the need to guard against potential biases and to ascertain that the needs of all segments of the recreating community are considered.”
Finally, Floyd (1998) & Kuentzel (2001) recognized not all participants in the stakeholder process may be represented equitably due to status, barriers or the nature of the recreational opportunity. “The elite leisure class (e.g., people often engaged on state advisory commissions) that can result from the end stages of recreation specialization may not be representative of a majority of participants in the sport. A variety of recreational opportunities and barriers may affect the involvement of many other participants in a sport” (Lord & Elmendorf 2008, p94).
Hence, the research reveals that it is imperative that managers of stakeholder integration processes be aware of all potential stakeholder groups and consider the dynamism of salience and how stakeholder groups may adjust their positions and potentially influence negotiations that may already be well under way.
The literature informs that awareness of the complex, shifting matrix of value systems and influences on community decision-making processes is essential in ensuring that suitable importance is assigned to all potentially significant stakeholders in order to promote an effective collaboration process. For example, utilizing Community-based collaborative resource management (CBCRM) processes as suggested by Wegener & Fernandez-Gimenez (2008, p324) is showing a gain in popularity as a means to address issues of potential conflict between stakeholders and is defined as “groups of diverse stakeholders who convene voluntarily to work on natural resource policy, planning, or management issues specific to a particular location.” Furthermore, Wegener & Fernandez-Gimenez (2008) inferred that through a collaborative, community-based process, stakeholders can create Social Capital assets to more effectively achieve greater good for a broader spectrum of stakeholders. Putnam (2003) expanded this definition by stating: “In the context of CBCRM, social capital is an asset that groups or stakeholders can use to obtain the results they seek and accomplish goals that are otherwise unattainable” (Wegener & Fernandez-Gimenez, 2008, p324).
Examples of Social Capital that may more effectively be created through CBCRM, according to Adger (2003), & Olsson et al. (2004) may well include: better access to financial capital, better utilization of human capital, and enhancement of natural capital, as they stated: “it may improve a group’s or community’s ability to come up with innovative solutions to problems, manage risk, and adapt to change” (Wegener & Fernandez-Gimenez, 2008, p324). Essentially, Wegener & Fernandez-Gimenez (2008) presented the notion that CBCRM may provide more powerful synergies and outcomes than individual stakeholder groups approaching negotiations from confrontational positions.
Contrary to the benefits of a CBCRM approach, Singleton (2002), and Walker & Hurley (2004) pointed out Social Capital benefits and outcomes in stakeholder interactions may be negatively influenced by those who attempt to place their interests above those of the common good (Wegener & Fernandez-Gimenez (2008, p325). Additionally, Pellizzoni (2003); Dovers & Handmer (1993) advised: “Despite our best intentions at rational control and efficiency in recreation management, there continues to be radical uncertainty and contradiction in the decisions that we make about how to coexist with one another and ecosystems over the long term” (Brooks & Champ, 2006, p795).
To facilitate public awareness of multiple stakeholder management issues, Owen, Duinker, & Beckley (2008, p10) suggested that collaboration with appropriate stakeholders combined with controlled public access would increase understanding to meet mutual objectives. Through stakeholder surveys and diligent, adaptive management, effective multiple-stakeholder management efforts can yield satisfactory outcomes.
The selected literature in this review revealed prominent aspects of stakeholder group management for consideration of public land managers that may be utilized to mitigate multiple user conflicts on public lands as applied to a select group of winter outdoor recreation activities. The concept of Stakeholder Integration as derived from the literature suggests that early identification and participation of relevant stakeholder groups who are encouraged to participate in the development of policy frameworks could facilitate balanced access and use of public lands. The literature further suggests that commercial and non-commercial winter outdoor recreationists can achieve a sense of ownership through a collaborative process versus more traditional confrontational stances.
As a part of facilitating a collaborative process, the literature advises land managers to identify issues which contribute to potential stakeholder group conflicts, including shifting economic circumstances and evolving community attitudes and societal values that shape perceptions and values. The literature additionally suggests that land managers keep in mind stakeholder groups’ values and priorities may shift as new information is revealed during the process. Therefore, a stakeholder group that initially exhibited latent behaviours may shift to become more influential in negotiations as new information is in introduced into the process.
In order to effectively mitigate potential stakeholder group conflicts, the literature introduces processes which encourage open communications with adaptive capabilities that can be successful in encouraging collaboration and adjusting developing policy frameworks with buy-in from participating stakeholder groups. The literature further advises land managers to be cognizant of temporal considerations, dynamism, and influence capabilities of stakeholder groups through a thorough and ongoing stakeholder diagnosis and suggests the integration of stakeholder groups concerns through a more collaborative process can foster the development of Social Capital assets to the benefit of all participating stakeholder groups.
In summing, utilization of these considerations as revealed from a review of the research within this construct could greatly enhance the integration of winter outdoor recreation stakeholder interests on public lands more effectively than traditional confrontational strategies. As commercial and non-commercial stakeholder groups continue to increase their pressure on natural amenities, their collaborative participation in the development of management frameworks for public lands can ensure preservation of economic, environmental, social, and cultural interests.
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