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Deliberative public spaces in the making: the cases of regional water management and forest planning

Open Panel

Abstract

The rise of deliberative forms of planning has aroused enthusiasm in natural resource management during the last decades. These kinds of coordinative plans reflect the attempts of hierarchical management organisations to apply methods of network governance. Despite the participatory goals, the coordinative planning processes often aim to integrate particular, preset resource management goals of respective sectoral administrations into relevant public and private activities. In our paper, we investigate these tensions by focusing on the institutional arrangements and planning practices of two coordinative natural resource management processes. Our paper focuses on the collaborative making of deliberative public spaces in two participatory natural resource management processes in Finland: the preparation of Regional Forest Programme in Pirkanmaa in the year 2002 and a river basin management plan in SW Finland in 2007-2010. Our analysis focuses on negotiations that took place over the socio-material arrangements crucial for manageability or plan-ability. Our analysis suggests that there is a constant tension between the attempts to mobilise stakeholders on one hand and to avoid conflicts and confrontations on the other hand. The space of planning is, thus, to be, at the same time, open enough to allow engagement, but bounded enough to respect the autonomy of the co-existing jurisdictions and private spheres. Deliberation and collaboration thus seem to be subordinate to conflict avoidance. Furthermore, it seems, paradoxically, that collaborative planning does not just serve co-operation and entanglement, but also demands re-configuration that establishes new practical and administrative categories and strengthens existing ones.