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Network and participatory governance in urban forestry: An assessment of examples from selected Slovakian cities

Kozová, Mária, Dobšinská, Zuzana, Pauditšová, Eva, Tomčíková, Ivana, Rakytová, Iveta
Forest policy and economics 2018 v.89 pp. 31-41
activists, business enterprises, case studies, cities, citizen participation, decision making, environmental policy, governance, interviews, natural resources conservation, nongovernmental organizations, politics, research projects, stakeholders, state government, urban forestry, urban forests, Slovakia
Current political trends and scholarly research increasingly promotes network and participatory governance in multi-level systems as a way to more sustainable and effective environmental policy. In Slovakia best practice knowledge on shaping and implementing participatory processes is scarce. The main aim of the article is to assess the role of various stakeholders in the processes of participatory and network governance in urban forests in Slovakia. Based on selected case studies critical factors of success or failure in urban forestry at local level were identified. The methodological approach consisted of combination of multiple research methods. The main data sources for the qualitative part were expert structural interviews and complemented by desk study of relevant scientific literature, strategic documents, and personal observation and own findings from previous research projects on public participation. At national and regional levels open, continuous and initiatively functioning network is present and influences decision making. The result of the cooperation among various stakeholders at the local level most frequently takes the form of positive experience sharing from the implementation of community and civic projects, but it can also be beneficial to promote alternative proposals in strategic documents and development plans. In Slovakia, companies of municipal forests organize participatory processes in collaboration with local self-government, local and regional state government, nature conservation agencies, community activists and NGOs and enhance participation at regional and local level. The results thus show that difference between success and failure in many participatory processes is often unclear especially if a large number of stakeholders take part in the activities and their interests might differ. The crucial factor for the success or failure of the complex participatory process is to ensure the sustainability of the achieved goal or result.