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Successful natural resource management built on trust

Jan. 23, 2015 – Trust is an important driver of collaboration, conflict resolution, and enhanced group performance in the business world as well as in the management of natural resources.

“One thing we can be sure of in ecosystem management is that we don’t know all the answers,” said Marc Stern, associate professor of the human dimensions of natural resources in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. “Therefore, collaborative learning and innovation is particularly important to successfully navigating natural resource management in our ever-changing ecological and social contexts.”

“Trust between multiple stakeholders — including government agencies, environmental groups, industry, and local citizens — is essential to build the types of collaboration necessary to effectively govern natural resources and draw on the talents and knowledge of diverse groups of people,” said Stern, who teaches in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation.

For example, a study of Podocarpus National Park in Ecuador, U.S. Virgin Islands National Park, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee found that local opposition or support could be predicted with nearly 80 percent accuracy based on local trust for park managers alone, he said.

Speaking at the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Parks Congress, Stern described how four forms of trust may play a role in building resilient collaborations for natural resource management.

“We can think of trust developing in four different ways,” Stern explained. “The first type we call dispositional trust. Some people are predisposed to be generally trusting or generally distrusting.”

The other three forms of trust are the results of actions.  (continue reading..........)

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