Collaborative frameworks in land management : a case study on integrated deer management, 2006-2009
This is a mixed method data collection. The study is part of the Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) programme.
It is widely accepted, at least in principle, that most kinds of natural resources are best handled collaboratively. Collaborative management avoids conflict and enhances the efficiency with which the resource is managed. However, simply knowing that collaboration is a good idea does not guarantee that collaboration can be achieved. In this project, the researchers have addressed issues of conflict and collaboration in ecological resource management using the example of wild deer in Britain. Deer are an excellent example since they highlight problems around ownership and because they offer both societal benefits and drawbacks. Wild deer are not owned, though the land they occupy is. As deer move around, they usually cross ownership boundaries and thus provoke potential conflicts between neighbouring owners who have differing management goals. Deer themselves are valued and a key component of the natural environment, but their feeding commonly limits or prevents woodland regeneration and can thus be harmful to ecological quality. Deer provide jobs but they also provoke traffic accidents.
This study used a variety of methods from across the natural and social sciences, including choice experiments, semi-structured interviews with individuals and focus groups. It also incorporated the use of participatory GIS to map deer distributions and habitat preferences in conjunction with stakeholders. The study confirmed conventional wisdom about the importance of collaboration. However, it also showed that there were many barriers to achieving effective collaboration in practice, such as contrasting objectives, complex governance arrangements, power imbalances and personal relationships.