Collaboration and Communication

Air quality and fire management encompasses many stakeholders. By bringing people together from many different perspectives, issues can be addressed before on-the-ground implementation takes place, thereby reducing the number of obstacles which may present themselves later. This process can also increase efficiency by pooling resources, personnel, and experience. Collaboration can help build trust as people work with each other, increase awareness of changing values by bringing multiple perspectives together, and facilitate landscape level management and planning by bringing together groups regardless of property boundaries. The collaboration process also supports science and research through shared learning, experience, and resources. 

Considerations in Collaboration

While collaboration can be a great tool for problem solving, it may not be needed in every case. When determining when collaboration may be helpful in a given situation, here are some considerations identified by London (1995):

  • The process of collaboration is time consuming, making it unsuitable when quick actions are required.
  • Parties involved should be of equal importance and power, otherwise the process may experience problems.
  • Collaboration becomes a more cumbersome process as the size of the groups involved increases.
  • Willingness and ability to implement the final decision is imperative.

Stages of Collaboration

There is an ordered series of stages which should be followed when entering the collaboration process. While these are listed in detail by Sturtevant et al. (2007), they are briefly listed below. The details entailed in going through each of these changes will vary depending upon the specific situation, however maintaining this sequence will aid in the collaboration process.

  1. Identify the issue
  2. Assemble stakeholders involved or affected by the issue
  3. Establish goals for dealing with the issue
  4. Establish the format for future collaboration sessions
  5. Share information and perspectives
  6. Implement plans to achieve goals
  7. Evaluate the success of the collaboration

Sturtevant, Victoria; Moote, Margaret Ann; Jakes, Pamela J.; Cheng, Anthony S. 2005. Social science to improve fuels management: a synthesis of research on collaboration. General Technical Report. NC-GTR-257. St. Paul, MN: USDA Forest Service, North Central Research Station. 84 p.