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The participation of stakeholders in the policy processes and their satisfaction with results: A case of Estonian forestry policy

Teder, Meelis, Kaimre, Paavo
Forest policy and economics 2018 v.89 pp. 54-62
collective action, decision making, environmental protection, forest policy, stakeholders, timber production, Estonia
The article explains the stakeholders' interactions and satisfaction with their participation in the forest policy processes in Estonia. The interactions during the policy formulation and decision-making stages are observed with special attention to the role of scientists. Representatives of three target groups were interviewed: forestry officials, stakeholders and forestry scientists. The stakeholders tend to believe their main form of participation in policy processes is decision-making, not realising that the final decisions are made by forestry officials or by politicians: the minister, government or Parliament. Consensual proposals or decisions are important because these usually form the basis for final formulations in policy documents. The policy processes are mostly facilitated by forestry officials whose mediation skills need improvement. There is a major conflict between stakeholders representing timber production and environmental protection. In policy discussions, the environmentalists should provide more analysis, otherwise their viewpoints are ignored. Forestry scientists fall short in their most important role as honest brokers; they must learn how to integrate themselves into policy processes. Very often scientists act as observers, but other participants expect them to actively bring scientific information and knowledge into discussions. In addition to the face-to face meetings, new communication tools (e-consultation and e-participation) are available, but they are underused in the policy formulation processes.