Local Information Flows and Decision-Making Requirements

Local Information Flows and Decision-Making Requirements

Kathy H. Hodder (Bournemouth University, UK), Adrian C. Newton (Bournemouth University, UK), Loretta Perrella (Bournemouth University, UK), Jane Butters (Bournemouth University, UK), Robert E. Kenward (Anatrack Ltd, UK) and Julie A. Ewald (Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2824-3.ch003
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Abstract

This enquiry characterises the use of information on biodiversity and ecosystem services in the environmental decision making process at the local (as opposed to national) level. Data were collected from nine case study areas, in eight countries, to explore local requirements across a range of governance systems and bioregions in EU and accession states. A strong demand for information was noted across all the case studies, with some variation in needs between societal groups. This contrasted with a substantial proportion reporting considerable difficulty in acquiring the necessary information for decision making. This was particularly true for detailed habitat data. Although the internet was commonly used to search for information, much of the data accessed was not stored on computers and not regularly updated or spatially referenced. Notably, the highest perception of these impediments to data access occurred in the stakeholder groups that also indicated the greatest requirements for information.
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Introduction

The work described in this chapter was designed to gather information at the local level, in rural areas, to complement the information collected concerning the national level in described in Chapter 2. This local enquiry gathered data from nine case study areas, in eight countries, to characterise the use of information on biodiversity and ecosystem services in the environmental decision making process. Conducting the survey across a range of countries allowed the enquiry to consider local requirements across a range of governance systems and bioregions in EU and accession states.

At the local level, the decisions include formal processes like SEA and EIA, as at higher levels of governance, but also local planning applications, and the myriad informal decisions made by communities and individuals that are small-scale individually, but summate to change the environment.

The enquiry at local level therefore considered (i) local administrations involved in formal assessment and planning decisions, including participatory processes, and informal decisions for managing public land or guiding community actions; and (ii) informal decisions by local stakeholders.

The enquiry addresses the following questions relating to the flow of information on biodiversity and ecosystem services at the local level:

  • What are the information needs?

  • What determines the information needs?

  • What information is used?

  • What information is needed but currently unobtainable?

  • What are the barriers to obtaining information?

Analysis provides insights into the relationships between the utilization of such information, and key differences between the case study areas. Such differences might include their environmental governance, the nature and extent of community participation, land-use, and status in terms of biodiversity conservation.

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Background

Paradoxically we are not limited by lack of knowledge but failure to synthesise and distribute what we know (Pimm et al. 2001)

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