Extracting the value of experiential knowledge in environmenal decision making

Johnson, Bruce and Clark, Michael (2012) Extracting the value of experiential knowledge in environmenal decision making. In: Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference 2012, 3-5 July, 2012, Edinburgh.

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Although the dynamics of good engagement and the acquisition of experiential knowledge are complex and often viewed by academia as poor science and by one research participant as ‘corporate rape’, research findings are gaining credence through the use of Action Research methodologies. Increasingly Climate change, adaptation policy, the Localism Bill and other regulatory instruments require greater synthesis of academic and experiential knowledge to assist in building resilience, community development and policy coherence. In 2008 the European Union ratified the Marine Strategy Framework Directive with the aims of achieving good environmental status in Europe’s seas by 2020. In 2009 the UK began working towards policy compliance and is developing some of the first Marine Conservation Zone’s in the world. Stakeholder Engagement and Public Participation were used as part of the process to identify and define the MCZ areas and this consultation demonstrates many examples of the ‘harvesting’ of experiential knowledge which could be used to assist in the decision making process by the oversight stakeholder group. This paper studies the techniques used in the gathering and collation of this experiential/anecdotal information to develop stakeholder dialogue in the Irish Sea Conservation Zone process. To undertake this research work a participatory approach methodology was used to gain insight into the complex interactions within the process.

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