Wetland Management Planning and Inclusivity: Making the Case for an Inclusive Approach to Planning
Many important conservation sites are managed without management plans. Despite this, management planning is essential. It is the “thinking” part of the management process, and management without proper planning can result in wasted resources and wasted opportunities to be successful. Planning is also important for continuity, ensuring that agreed ideas about management are recorded for future managers to understand and to take forward. This paper advocates an inclusive participatory approach that uses the available knowledge among managers and stakeholders to the full and gives them plan ownership. The first step in the process is a joint visit to the site with as many stakeholder representatives as possible to bring together the collective knowledge and experience of the site. Further written information, including maps, surveys, and any other literature that describes the site and main features of interest, is then sent to the management team for consultation. These first two steps are crucial to achieve collective recognition and familiarity with the structure and contents of the plan and to avoid confusion about the key objectives. Effective communication from the beginning will also create a sense of ownership and confidence among future site managers and other stakeholders, and reduce the likelihood of conflicts. Following this inclusive approach gives a better than even chance of full implementation of the management plan.