Citizen Jury to deliberate the use of marshlands for peat production
The regional council of South Ostrobothnia and The Finnish Environment Institute, together with Akordi, assembled a citizen jury to discuss the use of South Ostrobothnian marshlands. This was a part of drafting the regional plan of South Ostrobothnia. The goal was to plan how to integrate the differing interests of peat production, conservation, and other marshland usages. Jonna Kangasoja from Akordi assisted and facilitated the meetings.
A 15 member citizen jury was formed for the discussions. It represented different age groups and occupations from the region. The jury met three times in 2018 between September and October. Some jury members were more supportive of peat production, and some more in favor of protecting the areas. Also, the jury’s views on water conservation and recreational use were discussed.
Although the jury didn’t reach unanouminity on the matter, it did agree on a statement regarding what the regional plan should aspire for. According to the jury, the planning should lead to a solution on how to use the marshlands in the area in a sustainable way.
The feedback from the jury about the experience was mainly positive. This encourages the regional council to test new forms of public participation also in the future. According to the participants, having the time and place for open and diverse discussion was important, even though the group didn’t reach a consensus.