Citizen Jury discussed the use of marshlands in South Ostrobothnia

The Regional Council of South Ostrobothnia and The Finnish Environment Institute together with Akordi assembeled a citizen jury to discuss the use of marshlands as a part of preparing the Regional Plan of South Ostrobothnia. The aim of the proposed plan is to integrate the interests of peat production, conservation and other marshland usages. The work was launched as an experiment for testing new kinds of ways for public participation. Jonna Kangasoja from Akordi assisted and facilitated the meetings.

Alltogether 15 members were picked from 37 registered volunteers that represented different age groups and occupations from around the Region. The jury met three times during September and October 2018. The members had different viewpoints on the issue as some were more supportive of peat production and some in protecting the areas. Also the views of water protection and recreational use were discussed.

Allthough the jury wasn’t unanimous on their views, it did form a statement for the the proposed Regional Plan of South Ostrobothnia. According to the statement the aim of the planning should be to use the marshlands in the area in a sustainable way. The feedback from the jury about the experience was mainly positive and encouraging for similar work to be done in the future. Allthough the group didn’t reach consensus, the participants felt it was important to be offered a time and place for an open discussion.

News about the citizen jury (in finnish):

Collaborative Process Resulted in Jyväskylä’s Strategic Forest Programme

The city of Jyväskylä has finalised its first strategic Forest Programme. The consensus building process facilitated by Akordi had five different phases: 1) stakeholder assessment, 2) defining the process and its goals, 3) joint fact-finding, 4) finding and discussing the solutions and 5) compacting the programme. The sixth phase will be implementation and evaluation phase.

The process began in 2017 for the city of Jyväskylä had regognized a need for renewing their forest alignments. By a strategic Forest Programme the city aimed to create coherent instructions of forest management that would help to maintain the most important values of the forests. The vision for the Forest Programme was defined by the working group as following:

”The city of Jyväskylä is a pioneer in harmonizing economical, ecological and social goals that are addressing the forests.”

The group responsible for the planning and compacting the programme was assembeled from different stakeholder groups that had been identified as key actors by a stakeholder assessment. The group had representatives from the city of Jyväskylä, Central Finland Bird Club, Forest Group, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (Jyväskylä), the Finnish Nature League, JAPA association and the University of Jyväskylä. Representatives in the group were selected by participants from different stakeholder groups in the process kick off.

During the process the group engaged in joint fact-finding. During that phase the group focused on identifying the most important views, needs and goals for the management of Jyväskylä’s forests. They organized a seminar about topical forest information having professional speakers from different fields, visited different forest locations and executed a survey for the residents of Jyväskylä. In the following phase the group engaged in deep discussions and finding solutions that could be approved by all members. By working with different kinds of drafts the group searched for a solution that all parties could agree on and commit to.

The Forest Programme was presented to the board of Urban Planning and City Infrastructure in 2.5.2018 after which it was published and commented on by the public during May 2018 including a public audit in 30.5.2018.

The working group met 18 times during the planning process. The final Forest Programme aligned that the conservation rate of Jyväskylä forests would be raised to 17 %, the amount of restorative forest would be stepped up by decreasing the amount of forests in financial use and that the ways and tools of commuciation between the forest management and residents would be enhanced.

The city of Jyväskylä has been the first city in Finland to engage in a consensus building process in their forest planning while having a consensus building practitioner as a neutral party and facilitator. For more materials visit here.

Iijoki River Visioning Process

Iijoki is a great river flowing through Northern Ostrobothnia. The river is harnessed by hydroelectric power production and it’s characterized by similar problems and needs as other river valleys of its kind. One of the common factors is a requirement to recover the vitality of migratory fish stocks. It has been recognized that the river would have great potential and it could support the development of the whole area if the water area would be developed jointly with all the key stakeholders. However, taking major steps in developing the use of the river has been difficult in the past and jointly shared vision of Iijoki river’s future has not been found.

From these starting points in March 2016, a new operating model was launched to build a shared vision of the future of the water system and to ensure the commitment of various parties involved. The aim of the process was to create a widely accepted vision of the river basin but more importantly to strengthen parties’ commitment to the development of ​​the river while taking the different values into consideration and ensuring the work continuity in the future.

Akordi has been a part of the project by planning a participatory process and facilitating the Iijoki river vision advisory board meetings. Advisory board was gathered from a wide range of stakeholder groups representing various kinds of interests. From the beginning the efforts has been made to build trust between actors to enable genuine negotiations also in difficult situations.

Iijoki river vision is now ready but the advisory board will continue to work on prioritizing and planning measures and new projects to increase the value of the river. The visioning process has created a good base to continue cooperation in the area.

Visioning process was a part of a larger Ijjoki otva project managed by the Council of Oulu Region.