Developing tools for citizen participation in landscape planning: case study from the Inner Forth estuary, Scotland

Authors and Affiliations: 

Anja Helena Liski and Marc Metzger
School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh

Corresponding author: 
Anja Helena Liski

The Inner Forth estuary in the central belt of Scotland is a dynamic social-ecological system, representing many other seascapes that are being rapidly shaped by both post-industrialisation, urbanisation and social deprivation (Doody, 2014). Many local policy-makers and land managers are proposing ecosystem restoration of tidal areas, to return marshes and mudflats for natural flood management and wildlife. This policy context provides an interesting opportunity to explore and develop tools for participatory decision-making, to incorporate local knowledge and values in seascape planning and management (Jones, 2007). The authors will present results from a citizen-inclusive participatory process with a cross-section of people living on the shores of the Inner Forth. We engaged with 109 citizens in full-day workshops and 354 citizens in short interviews. Our methodology integrates deliberative choice experiments, participatory GIS, discussions, expert presentations and local knowledge sharing in the workshops, and choice experiments in the short interviews.
Our findings suggest that biocentric values are mainstream amongst the Inner Forth citizens, which translated to support and willingness to donate for tidal restoration. The citizens do not feel informed or included in local planning, and emphasise the importance of including their knowledge and views in decision-making. Participation of citizens, however, is often hindered by gaps in awareness, and framings that are underpinned by narrow world views.
The Inner Forth case study shows how citizens’ knowledge regarding governance and local solutions to global drivers is limited. We present a framework for addressing awareness gaps in terms of knowledge and world views from both local and expert perspectives through deliberative interventions. We find the deliberative interventions to shape people’s preferences, as clearer priorities emerge and hypothetical bias (Loomis, 2011) is reduced.
We will also identify four other common barriers for stakeholder inclusion relating to space, use, ethics and expression. We demonstrate how these can be overcome by including framings that emphasise different orientations of value in terms of space (explicit or implicit), use (or non-use), ethics (biocentric or anthropocentric), and expression (quantitative and qualitative). Combining measures that emphasise the different orientations not only improves the participatory process, but also helps to understand the pattern (e.g. spatial) and processes (e.g. qualitative) leading to the cultural values of a seascape.
Our findings highlight the importance of addressing awareness gaps regarding e.g. sea-level rise, and the need to design participatory processes that are inclusive to social, economic and ecological world views (Pascual et al. 2017). The governance of seascapes can be improved if citizens are better informed and included, which would support further steps towards sustainability in the Inner Forth.


Doody J. P. (2004) 'Coastal Squeeze': An Historical Perspective. Journal of Coastal Conservation 10:129-138.

Michael Jones (2007) The European landscape convention and the question of public participation, Landscape Research, 32: 613-633.

Pascual U., Balvanera P., Díaz S., et al. (2017) Valuing nature’s contributions to people: the IPBES approach. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 26–27:7–16.

Loomis J. (2011) What’s to Know About Hypothetical Bias in Stated Preference Valuation Studies? Journal of Economic Surveys 25:363–370.

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Oral presentation
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