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Scenario planning during rapid ecological change: lessons and perspectives from workshops with southwest Yukon wildlife managers

Dylan M. Beach, School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan
Douglas A. Clark, School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan


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Scenario planning has been increasingly advocated as a strategic planning tool for enabling natural resource managers to make decisions in the face of uncertainty and rapid change. However, few examples exist that discuss the technique’s application in that field. We used a scenario planning approach to develop wildlife management goals and evaluated participants’ perceptions of scenario planning as a goal development tool. Study participants emphasized the context-specificity of management goals, and that “no-regrets” management strategies might not be constructive. We found that scenario planning can help resource managers identify needs that have been overlooked but may become important in the future. Scenarios can likely be used to develop management goals for other resources within the same system. Scenario planning provides a way to apply traditional ecological knowledge and local knowledge in a planning process in a respectful manner. Further process-oriented findings may be helpful to practitioners or researchers considering this approach: workshops should to be temporally close together for participants to retain context during the process, and ensuring continuity of workshop participants is important. Study participants judged scenario planning to be an effective tool to stimulate group-thought on longer time scales, facilitate adaptive learning, and enhance institutional linkages. Ultimately such outcomes can help groups comprising diverse participants to develop shared mental models of the future and identify pathways to achieve them.

Key words

Champagne & Aishihik First Nations; change; participatory; qualitative; scenario planning; social-ecological system (SES); wildlife management; Yukon Territory

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087