Canadian Forest Service Publications

Understanding the concept of representation within the context of local forest management decision making. 2003. Wellstead, A.M.; Stedman, R.C.; Parkins, J.R. Forest Policy and Economics 5: 1-11.

Year: 2003

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 22831

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (request by e-mail)

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Public involvement in forest management decision making has become more and more prevalent. With this growth, a large body of literature has emerged that examines ideal forms of public participation processes. Despite these scholarly advances, it is argued that the literature fails to account for the full concept of representation, which is relegated to a one-dimensional interpretation based on the correspondence of the representatives and their constituents, known as descriptive representation. In this paper, a statistical comparison of Alberta-based Public Resource Advisory Groups and the provincial general public is provided. The results are indicative of other similar studies where differences in socio-demographic characteristics and belief and values between the public and representative groups exist. However, in the second part of the paper, a full theoretical treatment of representation is given. In addition to descriptive representation, two other forms of representation are introduced: the representation of subjective interests and the representation of objective interests. Both provide a different interpretation of what constitutes representation and has important consequences for an understanding of forest-management decision making.