October 17, 2005
- ecosystem services,
- research partnerships,
- deliberative multi-criteria evaluation
This paper reports on the design and implementation of a multi-phase interactive process among a set of scientists, policy makers, land managers, and community representatives, so as to facilitate communication, mutual understanding, and participative decision making. This was part of the Ecosystem Services Project in Australia. The project sought to broaden public understanding about the natural ecosystems in Australia. The study reported here pertains to one of the project sites--the Goulburn Broken catchment, a highly productive agricultural watershed in the south-east of Australia. The paper demonstrates how, starting from a condition of diversity of ideas and interests among the participants, systematic dialogue and mutual learning could be generated, leading to identification of options for more sustainable land management practices. The concept of "ecosystem services" was used as an integrative tool across disciplines and community perspectives. The concept of scenarios was used to encourage future-focussed thinking among the participants. The idea of "stakeholder jury" was used to promote deliberation. A process of multi-criteria evaluation was used to facilitate convergence of viewpoints, through informed trade-offs and compromises. This experience led to the development of a process for integration research, which helped in harmonising across diverse understandings and values in a transparent and structured manner.