Using Qualitative Data Collection Methods when Planning for Community Forests
William F. Elmendorf and A.E. Luloff
Abstract: When gathering information and planning for community forest policies and programs, planners, municipal foresters, and arborists can find it difficult to identify, involve, and listen to all persons important and affected. Accordingly, the concerns, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of some people continue to be misstated, unknown, and ignored. Furthermore, some people continue to be excluded in information gathering and planning either by design or lack of effort, which can lead to poor information and planning, increased conflict and cost of conflict, poor collaboration, and increased mistrust and apathy. Use of key informant interviews, focus groups, and visual techniques such as stakeholder mapping, vision galleries, and sacred place mapping can help planners, municipal foresters, and arborists to better develop mail and telephone surveys. These methods can also be used to gather information about people's opinions and attitudes, help identify and include both insiders and outsiders in the community forest planning process, and help reduce conflict.
Keywords: Key informant interviews; focus groups; stakeholder mapping; vision galleries; sacred place mapping; conflict resolution; collaboration; planning; community forestry.