A Method for Rapid and Participatory Landscape Planning using Geospatial Systems Technologies

Location |    Osa Region, Costa Rica

Date |    2008

Description |    The international escalating institutionalization of participatory development and democratic planning demands from practitioners a new “expert-facilitator role” to mediate and advise in the complex debate of land resource planning between local, government and scientist communities. Giving the fundamental importance of integrating local and non-local forms of knowledge in the planning of rapidly changing regions, this study proposes a transdisciplinary method for conducting a rapid and participatory stakeholder-based landscape change appraisal. The method employs geospatial information systems and technologies as well as an array of stakeholder participatory techniques, to capture, process and exchange in real time, stakeholder knowledge about possible land use alternatives for the region.
Fieldwork conducted in the Osa Region of Costa Rica, captured through multiple community and individual participatory mapping workshops, land use distributions from 40 participants representing two groups: 1) stakeholders from the region of study called “local experts”, and 2) participants from academic, scientific and government groups called “nonlocal experts”. The study captures land use allocations from each stakeholder employing a framework for direct geospatial scenario digitization that utilizes digital pen and interactive display screen technologies. Results captured directly in a geodatabase, are analyzed and presented back to the all participants allowing multiple rounds of scenario refinement, reviewing and knowledge and information exchange.
The method generates two important advances in transdisciplinary-oriented planning practice: First, it allows stakeholders to directly sketch land use change scenarios into a geodatabase for evaluation through spatial statistical analysis. Secondly, allows the exchange of information and knowledge about the management and associated impacts of alternative uses of land resources, among decision-makers (government), scientist, and local community and regional groups. Final results define and categorize through an indicator system, geographic areas presenting different levels of spatial agreement and disagreement- both of land use types and stakeholder groups. This method proved highly informative for planning authorities, scientist and local groups, improving capacity building, governance and ultimately better informed decision-making.

Paisajes con Participación Cuidadana  -19 Junio 2008