Conservation organizations are increasingly turning to landscape approaches to achieve a balance between conservation and development goals. We use six case studies in Africa and Asia to explore the role of participatory modeling with stakeholders as one of the steps towards implementing a landscape approach. The modeling was enthusiastically embraced by some stakeholders and led to impact in some cases. Different stakeholders valued the modeling exercise differently. Noteworthy was the difference between those stakeholders connected to the policy process and scientists; the presence of the former in the modeling activities is key to achieving policy impacts, and the latter were most critical of participatory modeling. Valued aspects of the modeling included stimulating cross-sector strategic thinking, and helping participants to confront the real drivers of change and to recognize trade-offs. The modeling was generally considered to be successful in building shared understanding of issues. This understanding was gained mainly in the discussions held in the process of building the model rather than in the model outputs. The model itself reflects but a few of the main elements of the usually rich discussions that preceded its finalization. Problems emerged when models became too complex. Key lessons for participatory modeling are the need for good facilitation in order to maintain a balance between models as stories and technical modeling, and the importance of inviting the appropriate stakeholders to achieve impact.
Topic: conservation,natural resources,policy,participatory management,Modelling
Publication Year: 2010
Source: Ecology and Society 15(2): 13