Understanding the opportunities afforded by innovative management regimes, and seed transfer systems in particular, involves knowledge of the social, economic and political dynamics impacting implementation. While we researched social perceptions of those involved in and affected by forestry we also investigated the political setting in which our final recommendations will be put forth.
AdapTree researchers studied the institutional dynamics involved in forest stewardship and management practices in both British Columbia and Alberta. Through a qualitative program of study involving interviews with policy officials and stakeholders, supported by focus groups with practitioners, this research sought to identify core issues impacting the uptake and efficacy of climate-informed practice.
Research participants identified several factors which may lead to path dependencies enforcing the status-quo and acting as barriers to innovation. One such factor was ongoing economic uncertainty in the industry and the challenges for long term planning. Participants also identified uncertainties about the risks of adaptation and where costs would be born, and about the ability of industry to fully commit to a wider range of environmental and social forest valuations.
It was also discovered that in a governance context being shaped by a de-centering of policy and a greater emphasis on industry autonomy, professional capacity and responsibility are increasing in importance. Forest professionals may be able to support flexible, locally adaptive and value oriented innovations in relation to climate adaptation. However, participants expressed concern that these professional roles are not assured and that imagining that adaptation is already inherent within the policy context would be naïve. Instead, issues pertaining to training and capacity building, the ability to act proactively to future uncertainty and crisis, and trust relations between government and industry practitioners are all important factors in this regards.
This information will aid us in our recommendations for changes to seed transfer policy in Alberta and British Columbia. For instance, by considering the emphasis on industry and de-centralization of policy it may be worth investigating private sector avenues of implementing climate change & genomics informed seed transfer along with suggesting changes to policy. This is however contrasted with the barriers to innovation listed above that suggest industry may be resistant to the uncertainty and new risks involved with genomics informed decision making. These are just two examples of how the information gained from these studies helps us understand the political climate of forestry in BC and AB. This understanding will allow us to take into consideration the current institutional framework when making our final recommendations, increasing the chances of their success.
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