The World Bank/WBI’s CBNRM Initiative
Case Received: February 6, 1998
Author: Cynthia Josayma
Tel/Fax: +1 510 528-6892
Facilitating Collaborative Planning in
Hawaii’s Natural Area Reserves
Identification of the Case
In May, 1993, the Hawaii State Legislature passed two resolutions to support the interest of pig-hunters to address their concerns that the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DOFAW) was fencing the access routes to the Natural Area Reserve System (NARS,) on the Big Island, and would soon begin to eradicate the wild pig population. The two resolutions ordered DOFAW to hold a series of information meetings regarding the land management objectives of the agency, and that DOFAW must accommodate the hunter’s interests to better manage the pig populations on the island.
To meet the court resolution, DOFAW contacted the Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution to assist them in the selection of two facilitators to serve as neutral meeting organizers. The facilitator’s first task was to assist DOFAW to form a representational group of interests to design the public information meetings. One of the primary objectives of DOFAW was to address the hunter’s concerns regarding the fencing issue as a natural resource management practice. The other objective was to explain the environmental impact that scientists had attributed to feral pigs that had led to DOFAW’s decision to begin fencing. To ensure that a representational group was formed the Big Island NARS manager worked together with the hunters and environmental representatives whom had been instrumental in legally mandating the establishment of the NARS. Altogether, twenty people representing local community organizations, Hawaiian cultural rights, state and federal conservation and game agencies, agree to join DOFAW, the hunters and environmentalists in designing the public meetings.
Over the course of the next year and a half, a series of bi-weekly meetings were held, with this diverse group, to resolve the issues of supporting the hunter’s interests, alongside of reaching agreement on an effective natural resource management plan. This case documents the facilitated meeting process and its communication and decision making structure, that enabled a very diverse and quite polarized group of individuals to be able to come to a series of agreements that were acceptable to all members. The importance of this case, lies in its overall, potential replicability, if facilitators are well trained in the fundamental methodologies of conflict resolution, from which the basic meeting process techniques have emerged.
As the author of this case, I had two roles during the course of the meetings. I was primarily an observer, documenting the facilitation process for my MA thesis in Political Science. The thesis proposal was to assess the viability of conflict resolution methods for resolving diverse public interests in land management issues. My research was funded by the USDA/ Forest Service, International Forestry Office, through a grant to the Asia Forest Network, which I was coordinating at the time. My secondary role, which emerged momentarily during the third month of the meetings, was to introduce basic community mapping skills to the hunters and DOFAW, to enable the hunters, in particular, to be able to better describe their ecological and environmental knowledge of the land under discussion. In this capacity, I ran a series of mapping exercises whereby the hunters drew out their primary hunting areas, the changes in pig populations over time, changes in flora and fauna, and traditional access routes. This information was later included for discussion during the facilitated meetings, and provided a more balance depiction of the land, which had previously only been accounted for on government and environmental maps. The group was then able to put all three types of maps together, and begin discussing where there was overlapping agreement in their knowledge. At that time, I resumed my earlier role as observer.
The natural ecosystems around the Hawaiian Islands have taken millions of years to evolve, and range from snow-peaked mountains to deserts, grasslands, lush rain forests, dry forests and volcanic terrain. The isolation of the Hawaiian Islands has formed a unique ecology beginning from small seeds blown in on trade winds, or carried by migrating birds. Over the centuries, approximately 6,000 invertebrate, 1,000 plants and 130 endemic bird species evolved. The first humans reached the islands, from the Marquesans, around 500-700 AD, bringing with them the first agricultural plants and non-native animals. Upon arrival they began introducing the first environmental changes to the natural environment, through land clearing for agricultural lots. Along with their agricultural systems, the Hawaiians also developed specific social systems to protect the watershed and forest regions from exploitation, using mediation and arbitration to resolve their conflicts.
In the 18th century, Captain James Cook, and English explorer arrived, the first known westerner to set foot on the islands. At the time there were approximately 800,000 Hawaiians across the eight-island chain. Within only a few years, however, boats from around the world made Hawaii a central stopover during the long trip between Asia and the northern coast of America. Over the past two hundred years, the islands have gone through a profound, social, political and environmental change. Hawaii in now the fiftieth state of the United States, and the native Hawaiian population is only 60,000, amidst the 1, 200,000 other people that have now made Hawaii their home. Eighty-four of the 130 endemic bird species are now extinct, and another 32 have been listed as endangered. Two hundred endemic plants are now listed as threatened and endangered, as millions of acres of land have been converted for agricultural plantations and ranching concerns, over the past century.
In the mid-1970’s environmental pressure was put on Hawaii’s DOFAW to put aside for protection a Natural Area Reserve System (NARS), that would include the most ecologically unique and representative selections of each ecosystem across all the islands. A Commission of environmental specialists was established to select the regions, and determined the fauna and flora, and ecosystems that required the most protection. They projected the need for 100 reserves, but for each one, a series of public meetings had to be held, along with review process, before a final nomination could be made. The first NAR to be established was on Maui, in 1973, and was selected for its lava flow, marine ecosystem. By 1991, however, only nineteen NARs had been established, with a combined total of 109,000 acres.
The first funding for active management of the NARS, was approved by the state legislature in 1987. The two primary threats to the system had been determined as human impact and biological disturbances. Human impact included marijuana cultivation, which involved not only land conversion, but also off-road vehicles and fire threats. Biological concerns included the rapid spread of non-native plant species and feral animals, in particular, the wild pig. The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii conducted a field inventory in 1988, of the Pu’u O Umi Natural Area Reserve on the Big Island. Their final report recommended; 1) the establishment of a well defined trail to minimize human impact; 2) a one-mile fence to form a protective boundary of two rare bogs; 4) pig control through a combination of snares, helicopter and public hunts; 4) and a public information and volunteer program to increase public awareness of the region’s ecological importance.
On the Big Island, there is several pig-hunting clubs, with a growing membership in recent years as traditional Hawaiian cultural practices are gaining popularity, which includes pig hunting for ceremonial purposes. There has also been a rise in pig hunting for subsistence needs as sugar plantations have been closing down, leaving many families who have worked for generations in the sugar industry, anxious, and concerned about their future. The pig hunting clubs organize hunting competitions and their members periodically assist DOFAW in rehabilitating popular forest trails.
In 1992, the NARs manager on the Big Island finally received a budget allowance, and an agency authorization to begin the management plan. The first line of fence, of approximately one mile long, was put up that spring in the Pu’u Umi Nar, in the Kohala Mountain. What had not occurred however was a notification to the general public that the DOFAW was going to begin fencing. The result was that a group of local pig hunters discovered the new fence line, and they returned home, outraged. They contacted their local state legislator to assist them to fight against this possibility, and he advised them to draft a resolution to stop all fencing and eradication until a series of facilitated meetings could be held.
The change process
The state of Hawaii actively supports the use of conflict resolution specialists, for a wide-range of dispute issues. Hawaii was one of five states that received the first federal funds in the mid-1980s, to develop an alternate forum to the court system, for resolving conflicts. Over the years, numerous people have been trained in the basic practices of negotiation and mediation, and are practicing in a variety of contexts. There is Neighborhood Justice Centers across the islands, to handle family, neighbors and small business conflicts. There is also the Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution,(CADR) within the State Judiciary, which handles primarily public conflicts over state management practices, such as land allocation and water rights. To handle large constituency issues, CADR has developed a reliable facilitation method that has emerged from the conflict resolution methods, to ensure that all interests are effectively heard and included in the redesign of management or policy.
To address the contending issues of the pig hunters and the environmental protection needs within the NARs, two facilitators were hired by DOFAW to assist in coordinating the group. The basic principle in running a conflict resolution meeting, is that the facilitators must be neutral to the conflict. Their primary role is to; 1) help the participants establish their agenda; 2) to assist them to reach agreement on their central issues; 3) and over time, to find a resolution that will be acceptable to all parties.
Over the next ten months, the facilitators guided the group discussions, by introducing some basic guidelines, and specific topic issues. The "Rules of the Road" established a communication guideline at the onset." The first task for the group was to decide on a working title that would define their objectives. After much discussion, they were finally agreed on "Natural Areas Working Group" (NAWG). The facilitators then proposed they developed a goal statement that represented the objectives and goals of their group. This emerged as "How do we fairly balance and accommodate the various interests that have a stake in the NARS and maintain a healthy forest and social community?" They then identified their central issues, concerns, opportunities and options for managing the NARS, and designed a series of guiding principles, that became their focus point for determining their agenda during all subsequent meetings.
What is important to note here, is that these first exercises were introduced deliberately by the facilitators as mechanisms to establish a common goal--to learn to problem-solve by integrating their interests, rather than maintaining separate objectives. This is quite different than a traditional meeting structure. The facilitators used a variety of communication techniques to move the dialogue forward, using open ended and clarifying questions, and reframing statements to insure that the language was accessible to all participants. This was particularly important in the beginning, as most of the participants were using different terminology though referring to the same thing. For instance, the DOFAW uses the word ungulates, when the hunters would say wild boar. The facilitators also ensured that the information was put forward in a balanced manner, by going around the table requesting each person to put forth only one point at a time. The participants learned to categorize the issues by common themes, and decide on methods for prioritizing them. Every meeting was documented in a "Group Memory" with a complete record of their discussions, decisions, and future issues, as they had been written up on flipchart paper throughout the meetings, and distributed to the NAWG.
After two months of meetings, the NAWG was ready to hold the public information meetings, in four locations around the Big Island. The intention was to provide an overview of the NARS; the reason for the forming the group and its decision making process; and finally to provide a venue for communities to voice their issues and concerns as well. What emerged from the public meetings was distinctive regional difference in community sentiment regarding the management of forestlands. In one area, the public was primarily concerned with balancing the power structure of the NARS commission which holds the highest authority over NARS policy, insisting that it include the hunter’s interest, and to ensure a community role in all future management plans. In another area, the issue of respecting Hawaiian cultural rights and the historical role of the pig in the forest as a fundamental part of the native ecology was a predominate theme. The meetings proved instructive for the NAWG members, in that most of the issues that were raised, were a mirror of the issues that they had already defined as central to their discussions. This assured them that their group was contained a truly balanced representation of interests.
Over the course of the next eight months, the group followed the agenda items that they had determined, with the role of the facilitators contained principally to timekeeping, documentation and clarification. There were occasionally moments when the facilitators used direct interventions, in the form of guided exercises to focus on particularly difficult issues, such as cultural or environmental differences. In such cases they would always first request the group for permission to intervene, explaining the reason and probable benefits.
The final product of the group was finally initiated when the facilitators requested that everyone bring a series of solutions that would resolve the conflict between hunting interests and protecting native species, and to specifically propose some management strategies. At the following meeting, some people arrived with formal proposals, some with a handwritten list, and still others, simply ready to speak. The facilitators used the one point per person process, going around the table until everyone had been able to put forward their suggestions. This one point at a time process initially irritated the people with the formal proposals, but in the end, everyone could see that they all had quite similar solutions, as they knew each others interests, and constraints, very well by then.
The group went through each point, and putting them in one of three categories; recommendations that they all agreed with, recommendations that they all agreed were unacceptable, and finally recommendations that needed further discussion. In this list the group discussed whether each point could be made acceptable through a change in language, or integration with another recommendation, or is shifted to the unacceptable category.
The final recommendations that emerged from the group outlined five strategies. The first was to support the hunting interests. Game Management Areas must be expanded, and improved by enforcing hunting regulations. Native species protection would be established through a joint-monitoring program that combined the hunters, community, environmentalists and DOFAW, to identify specific areas for protection and management. Community input would be maintained through the continuation of the NAWG group, and the establishment of new regional collaborative planning groups in two to three areas, to allow for more specific dialogue and recommendations. Hawaiian cultural practices were supported by a recommendation for identifying the traditional trails, cultural sites and medicinal plants. The role of the pig in the forest would be the focus of a new joint monitoring program that would establish their impact and migration patterns, before any control mechanisms would be implemented
A final series of public information meetings were held to introduce the NAWG’s final recommendations, to receive comment, and provide clarification. The general atmosphere at all the meetings was considerably different this time. People had been kept informed for the duration of the NAWG’s meetings, through the Group Memories, and during the meetings with their representatives, such as the monthly pig hunting club meetings, or the community counsel meetings. The result was that this time the majority of the people’s comments were directed towards reassurance that their communities would continue to have input into the management plans, and their questions revolved around the procedures for establishing the regional groups, and issues of responsibility and accountability.
The final report of the NAWG was completed in March 1995, and distributed to the governor of Hawaii, the congressional delegation, state and local officials. The report was formally received by the House of Representatives, and a new resolution was passed that requested a continuation of the NAWG to oversee the formation of the joint-monitoring programs for game management, pig migration, and native species inventories. In recent years, two new regional forest management councils have been established, one in the Kohala Mountain region, the other in the Upper Puna/ Volcano region. The NAWG continues to meet, quarterly, focusing on state legislation and other policy level matters that can affect hunting and species protection, island-wide.
The lessons learned
What is unique to this case is that the facilitation model has provided a new meeting context for contesting interest groups to systematically address their multiple views in contemporary land management issues. The conflict resolution communication and meeting design methods were the foundation for the NAWG members to safely discuss their differences. The benefit for DOFAW, as an agency that has been held increasingly accountable for merging scientific data on ecosystems with public interests, is that the facilitated process has enabled them to work at the same table with the hunters, environmentalists, and local communities to develop more appropriate management plans for the NARs. The final decision to support regional advisory councils has ensured that future management decisions will be locally appropriate, because the people who live closest to the areas will be actively involved.
For state officials, the collaborative decision-making process of the group, which had been cross-checked through two rounds of public meetings, enabled the State Legislature to easily pass their recommendations because of the confidence that the document was fully supported by all interest groups. As a result, the state of Hawaii is increasingly supporting the use the facilitation model to redesign policy across every sector. The Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution has been designing new models for public involvement, using a "conflict-anticipation" future planning model, to alleviate the need for "conflict resolution" which entails having to work back in history to unfold where things went wrong, before effective future planning can begin.
The potential use-value for the facilitative model is enormous for community based natural resource management, globally. Humans, in every society, use meeting contexts for addressing problem issues. What the facilitative model provides that is unique, however, is the starting point of defining the widest circle of interest parties, with the goal of cross-communicating their issues, collaborative problem-solving and final decisions that are acceptable to all parties. This is an innovative policy building strategy, that assures balanced communication methods and decisions that are coupled with clear accountability and responsibility. At a time when natural resources are coming under increasing stress due to growing population demands, the task to find effective and relevant agreements on how to balance needs with environmental sustainable protection, is critical today. The facilitation model, guided by professionally trained people, can provide that communication and decisions-making space.