Canadian Forest Service Publications

Perceptions of public land governance from two Canadian provinces: How is the social agenda being met through sustainable forest management? 2020. Miller, L.; Nadeau. S. Land Use Policy 91: 102485.

Year: 2020

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 37395

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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This article presents a comparative assessment of current spaces for public involvement in Crown (public) land management in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. More specifically, it addresses the barriers to public participation by examining the agency-client relationship – specifically, through the theoretical lens of capture – as an impediment to the inclusion of values that are outside the traditional, technocratic management realm of public forest management. Without public input, the public’s needs, values, and desires are not articulated and the social side of sustainable forest management is likely to be neglected. Low levels of trust in public land management agencies in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, coupled with minimal space for public involvement, have created the perception of a policy network that is dominated by industry and/or government and provides minimal space for other interests. The primary research method is an online survey informed by forty-two interviews. The survey was administered to 89 key forestry stakeholders in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Participation observation and a document analysis are utilized to complement the survey. This research finds that (1) although survey participants come from diverse affiliations and two provinces with different forest policy and unique approaches to public participation, there is essential consensus of the need for an improvement of public involvement processes for public land; (2) trust in the forest industry and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is extremely low in both provinces. Even with recent participatory efforts in Nova Scotia, the trust level is lower than in the neighboring province of New Brunswick. Some participants connect this distrust to privileged access for certain interest groups and a closed policy network; (3) barriers to participatory processes differ between provinces, especially a fear of retribution, which is specific to New Brunswick; and (4) key stakeholders identify barriers to engagement that they perceive to be different for themselves and the general public.

Plain Language Summary

This study shows that citizen involvement in consultations on public land management in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is still dominated by organized groups. This research also shows that citizens of these two provinces have very little trust in public land management authorities (the Department of Natural Resources and the forest industry), despite the transition towards a more active citizen involvement in Nova Scotia. The study was intended to help better understand the potential collaborations and obstacles related to citizen involvement processes in the definition of sustainable forest management objectives.