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Policy makers in forestry rely on personal contacts

04.12.2007
There is no common EU forest policy. In order to safeguard its interests, the forest sector in Europe need to communicate effectively with EU level policy makers and representatives of other sectors and stakeholder groups.

A doctoral dissertation ‘Communication in forest policy decision-making in Europe: a study on communication processes between policy, science and the public’ by Gerben Janse indicates that personal communication with peers is the most important source of information for forest policy-makers. It was also found out that the excess of information and complicated websites and inaccessible databases do not serve or attract the policy-makers.

As regards to improving communication between science and policy, both policy-makers and scientists agree that scientific information should be presented in shorter and easier to comprehend formats. Scientists should be involved more in policy advisory meetings and more personal contacts between scientists and policy-makers are called for.

The study also points out that policy makers’ willingness to involve themselves in public participation processes depends on their political interests, prior experience with public participation, and on their trust in the facilitators of the process. All in all, successful communication with policy-makers requires relationships and networks based on mutual trust.

Internal communication in the forest sector at the European (i.e. mainly EU) level is generally well developed, but the desired strengthening of communication with other sectors and the public at large is perceived as difficult. Due to varying expectations within the sector, more active exchange of best practices in forest communication between national as well as European level actors and increased coordination of communication efforts is desired.

The dissertation is a summary of four studies by Gerben Janse and they were conducted at the European Forest Institute. They are available at http://www.metla.fi/dissertationes/df48.htm

Anu Ruusila | alfa
Further information:
http://www.metla.fi/dissertationes/df48.htm

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