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Forest scholars empowering communities: A case study from the East Coast of New Zealand

Edwards, Peter, Velarde, Sandra J., Sharma-Wallace, Lisa, Barnard, Tim, Pohatu, Pia, Warmenhoven, Tui, Porou, Tina, Harrison, Duncan, Dunningham, Andrew
Forest policy and economics 2018 v.91 pp. 46-53
case studies, coasts, decision making, forestry, forests, governance, land use, rural communities, New Zealand
Forests and forestry in many forms are instrumental in contributing positively to environmental, social and economic outcomes in New Zealand. However, simply increasing production or efficiency has not always realised positive benefits for communities. In a current programme on the East Coast of New Zealand, we are undertaking action research to develop culturally appropriate adaptive governance capacity in forest-dependent and rural communities. These communities do not necessarily want more intense or increased forest or agricultural production. They must manage the tensions inherent in an increase in forest and agricultural production, while dealing with severe erosion and a range of social, environmental, economic and cultural aspirations. The processes we are experimenting with are designed to understand land-use actors, their interests, networks and perceived challenges. Using this information, we apply adaptive governance and Kaupapa Māori principles to encourage collaboration and innovative thinking and decision-making. This work is innovative in that it has not been done before in New Zealand, can be scaled up and across contexts, and shift thinking away from traditional forest approaches (i.e. exotic monocultures) that have not worked. This paper will present the conceptual framework for this study and some preliminary results around empirical tools.