Stakeholders are defined as the people and organizations who are involved in or affected by an action or policy and can be directly or indirectly included in the decision making process. In environmental and conservation planning, stakeholders typically include government representatives, businesses, scientists, landowners, and local users of natural resources. These groups of stakeholders often have very different positions and values that may be difficult to reconcile with each other and the planned project. The synthesis provides a brief overview of why it is important to incorporate different stakeholders, including underrepresented groups and “hidden” stakeholders, in the planning process and discusses the potential benefits of inclusion. Before involving stakeholders, conducting a stakeholder analysis can help to identify relevant stakeholders and to assess their views and interests on a proposed project. The synthesis describes specific techniques for conducting a formal stakeholder analysis, such as the use of stakeholder tables and a stakeholder influence/interest grid. Finally, it also highlights some approaches and strategies that can help to facilitate a fair and productive participatory process. In the accompanying role-playing exercise, students apply the concepts learned to current conservation or environmental projects of their choosing.
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