Incorporating Shared Decision Making in Forest Management Planning: An Evaluation of Ontario’s Resource Stewardship Agreement Process (Case Study)
Abstract Ontario’s Resource Stewardship Agreement (RSA) process introduced shared decision making into the management toolbox for land use planning in Ontario’s Crown forests. Within the RSA process, resource-based tourism and forestry operators negotiate mutually agreeable solutions to forest harvesting and tourism-use conflicts. Policy documents were reviewed and tourism operators surveyed to evaluate this small-scale, shared-decision-making process. The evaluation, which was conducted during the implementation of the RSA process, found that the process benefited forest management by including tourism operators in forest management planning, promoting dialogue between the two industries, and balancing power relationships. RSAs could be improved by including more stakeholders, making the process more transparent, and improving the negotiation process.