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Breaking the mold: Integrating participatory environmental assessments and underlying narratives to expose differences in traditional stakeholder categories

Ocampo-Melgar, Anahi, Orr, Barron J., Kong, Taryn F., Brandau, William
Journal of arid environments 2016 v.124 pp. 39-47
dry environmental conditions, environmental assessment, land management, researchers, stakeholders, watersheds, Arizona
Evaluation that integrates different stakeholders' assessments of past land management actions is important to improving restoration science and practice. This integration process is often perceived as challenging because stakeholder categories are expected to have different values and assessments. This study explores these assessment differences by comparing land management ratings and underlying narratives among three traditional stakeholder categories: researchers, practitioners and land users. Stakeholders were interviewed during a participatory evaluation of past land management actions in the San Simon watershed in Arizona. Results showed that historical, cultural and science-based narratives explained some assessments, while others were in conflict. Neither assessments nor narratives were necessarily aligned with stakeholder categories. Moreover, new typologies of stakeholder categories emerged from the analysis: optimist, pessimists, pro-management and conflicted. Using common narratives to identify stakeholder typology instead of categorizing them based on traditional labels could give more information and facilitate the integration of stakeholders in environmental assessment and management.