- Stakeholder Identification
- Stakeholders in the Hood River Forest Collaborative
- Who is the Most Important “Who” in the Collaborative?
- Work Cited
In order to give stakeholders a voice in any project they must first be identified. There are many ways of identifying individuals and groups as stakeholders (Luyet et al. 2012). It is incredibly important to properly identify stakeholders, as they are the ones most impacted by the outcomes of a project and oftentimes have key insights to help a project run smoothly. When identifying stakeholders it is also important to avoid homogeneity and aim to acquire the most diverse set of voices possible. By achieving this diversity, groups can avoid a number of issues that arise from having similar voices, some of which are outlined -with a specific focus on higher education- by Heterodox Academy.
However, it’s not as easy as simply identifying stakeholders. Once identified, stakeholders then need to be characterized and their degree of involvement should be clarified. Degree of involvement can be classified into five categories of increasing involvement (Luyet et al. 2012):
Properly defining each stakeholders degree of involvement is critical as it divides power within the project to where it’s most important. For a stakeholder who may already have greater power in the overall community or is only impacted minorly by the project it may be necessary to reduce their involvement. Conversely, it may be important to increase the power of a marginalized stakeholder or one that is greatly impacted. Ultimately, by properly identifying stakeholders and dividing power between them projects can run far more efficiently and result in much greater good.
Stakeholders in the Hood River Forest Collaborative
The Hood River Forest Collaborative (also known as the Stew Crew) identifies stakeholders by allowing them to self-identify, as anyone is welcome to attend meetings and contribute. Anyone who attends meetings has a voice; there is no guidelines for who is officially a stakeholder. However, the meeting location and time commitment can create boundaries to who is able to self-identify as a stakeholder. The meetings are held at the Hood River Ranger Station and the meetings last multiple hours, and those who make significant contributions to work through the collaborative often put in many hours outside of meetings to accomplish their personal agendas as stakeholders. This process can be inaccessible to many for a variety of reasons, including transportation to and from meetings and events, time commitment conflicts with jobs and families as well as emotional burdens on top of already busy schedules. This can create a divide between those “whos” that have time, transportation and money and those who do not.
This can mean that some voices are not heard; not everyone can attend meetings and not everyone is aware of the meetings, as there is not much outreach or advertising to the community. Additionally, for those unfamiliar with land management it can be intimidating to speak up even if they do attend the meeting. Because of this, previously mentioned issues of homogeneity within the stakeholders can arise even if the structure of the Stew Crew is at its core egalitarian. Additionally, it does not seem that any major effort has been taken to properly divide power within the group. Anyone is welcome to go and speak, but it’s quite possible that not everyone’s voice has the same weight. If the work has not been done to categorize these stakeholders then some might be unduly powerful. This is especially true when working with large governmental organizations, major industry, and local communities as the Stew Crew does.
Who is the Most Important “Who” in the Collaborative?
Because of the relatively freeform and open structure of the Stew Crew it can be incredibly difficult to determine a set of the most important stakeholders. As the entire goal of this organization is to effectively manage the Mt. Hood National Forest, one could say that the forest itself is the most important stakeholder. If that is the case, it raises important questions about how to properly implement stakeholders who are non-sapient, as they have no direct voice. It seems like this is the main goal of Stew Crew members like the Bark, but even then they are making their own human interpretations of a non-human collective.
Other key stakeholders are members such as the Hood River Ranger District, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Hood River Residents Committee, and the lumber industry. However, it is difficult to make a determination as too which of these is the most important. Each of these groups have their own goals for the management of the forest that need to be taken into account, and there is little doubt that they each think of themselves as equally important. Due to the legal power granted to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs as a sovereign government, they are somewhat distinguished from the lumber industry and residence committee and their role is likely one of greater power.
Luyet, Vincent, Rodolphe Schlaepfer, Marc B. Parlange, and Alexandre Buttler. 2012. “A Framework to Implement Stakeholder Participation in Environmental Projects.” Journal of Environmental Management 111 (November): 213–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.06.026.