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Participatory scenario planning in place-based social-ecological research: insights and experiences from 23 case studies

Elisa Oteros-Rozas, Social and Participatory Action Research Group, Department of Anthropology, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain; Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of Ecology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
Berta Martín-López, Institute of Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany
Tim M Daw, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden
Erin L. Bohensky, CSIRO Land and Water, Townsville, Australia
James R.A. Butler, CSIRO Land and Water, Brisbane, Australia
Rosemary Hill, CSIRO Land and Water, Cairns, Australia; James Cook University, Division of Tropical Environments & Societies
Julia Martin-Ortega, Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds, UK; Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences Group, The James Hutton Institute, UK
Allyson Quinlan, Resilience Alliance, Ottawa, Canada
Federica Ravera, Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of Ecology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
Isabel Ruiz-Mallén, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain; Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA), Universitat Autňnoma de Barcelona, Spain
Matilda Thyresson, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden
Jayalaxshmi Mistry, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London, UK
Ignacio Palomo, Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Bilbao, Spain; Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of Ecology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
Garry D. Peterson, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden
Tobias Plieninger, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Kerry A. Waylen, Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences Group, The James Hutton Institute, UK
Dylan M. Beach, School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan
Iris C. Bohnet, James Cook University, Centre for Tropical and Sustainability Science, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Maike Hamann, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Jan Hanspach, Institute of Ecology, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany
Klaus Hubacek, Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, USA
Sandra Lavorel, Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, CNRS - Université Grenoble Alpes, France
Sandra P. Vilardy, Faculty of Basic Sciences, University of Magdalena, Colombia

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07985-200432

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Abstract

Participatory scenario planning (PSP) is an increasingly popular tool in place-based environmental research for evaluating alternative futures of social-ecological systems. Although a range of guidelines on PSP methods are available in the scientific and grey literature, there is a need to reflect on existing practices and their appropriate application for different objectives and contexts at the local scale, as well as on their potential perceived outcomes. We contribute to theoretical and empirical frameworks by analyzing how and why researchers assess social-ecological systems using place-based PSP, hence facilitating the appropriate uptake of such scenario tools in the future. We analyzed 23 PSP case studies conducted by the authors in a wide range of social-ecological settings by exploring seven aspects: (1) the context; (2) the original motivations and objectives; (3) the methodological approach; (4) the process; (5) the content of the scenarios; (6) the outputs of the research; and (7) the monitoring and evaluation of the PSP process. This was complemented by a reflection on strengths and weaknesses of using PSP for the place-based social-ecological research. We conclude that the application of PSP, particularly when tailored to shared objectives between local people and researchers, has enriched environmental management and scientific research through building common understanding and fostering learning about future planning of social-ecological systems. However, PSP still requires greater systematic monitoring and evaluation to assess its impact on the promotion of collective action for transitions to sustainability and the adaptation to global environmental change and its challenges.

Key words

futures research; methodological insights; participation; place-based research; scenarios; social-ecological systems

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087