Making It Spatial Makes It Personal: Engaging Stakeholders with Geospatial Participatory Modeling | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
February 2019
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© 2019 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article.

Participatory research methods are increasingly used to collectively understand complex social-environmental problems and to design solutions through diverse and inclusive stakeholder engagement. But participatory research rarely engages stakeholders to co-develop and co-interpret models that conceptualize and quantify system dynamics for comparing scenarios of alternate action. Even fewer participatory projects have engaged people using geospatial simulations of dynamic landscape processes and spatially explicit planning scenarios. We contend that geospatial participatory modeling (GPM) can confer multiple benefits over non-spatial approaches for participatory research processes, by (a) personalizing connections to problems and their solutions through visualizations of place, (b) resolving abstract notions of landscape connectivity, and (c) clarifying the spatial scales of drivers, data, and decision-making authority. We illustrate through a case study how GPM is bringing stakeholders together to balance population growth and conservation in a coastal region facing dramatic landscape change due to urbanization and sea level rise. We find that an adaptive, iterative process of model development, sharing, and revision drive innovation of methods and ultimately improve the realism of land change models. This co-production of knowledge enables all participants to fully understand problems, evaluate the acceptability of trade-offs, and build buy-in for management actions in the places where they live and work.

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Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Vukomanovic, Jelena
Skrip, M. Megan
Meentemeyer, K. Ross


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