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Participatory Research

Participatory Research on Land Use and Conservation in the West

Participatory research is a cooperative approach among scientists, individuals and communities to conducting research. Questions asked, methods used, data collected and analyzed, and their application to on-the-ground issues are shared between researchers and others instigating the research. Participatory research is integral to the Bolle Center's mission to apply the best knowledge to inform forestry and other natural resource management decisions. The Bolle Center is committed to enhancing the training and use of participatory research ideas and tools.

Links to information on participatory research are available from: and

Over the years, the Bolle Center has responded to a number of requests to offer training and/or conduct participatory research. These include:

Training in Practical Methods in Participatory Research

From May 27-28, 2009 Bolle Center Director, Dr. Jill Belsky, assisted with the workshop on "Practical Methods in Community Inquiry" in Troutdale, Oregon. The workshop was supported by the United States Forest Service, PNW and organized by the Economics for Peace Institute (EPI). The training involved clarification of participatory research approaches, strategies and tools and how they can be better utilised in environmental and policy decision-making. Dr. Belsky led a session on strategies for enhancing the rigor of participatory research.

For additional information about the workshop and participatory research contact Myriem Le Ferrand, Director of the Economics for Peace Institute at:

Multiparty Monitoring for Community Wild Fire Planning: Community Benefits and Outreach

Since 2008, the Bolle Center has been assisting with a multiparty monitoring effort related to the Holland Pierce Fuels Reduction and Forest Health Project, one of the first such projects in the country.. During January - February 2007, Bolle Center Director, Jill Belsky, trained volunteers from the upper Swan valley to conduct a phone survey of landowners adjacent to the Holland Pierce project area assessing their knowledge and concerns relating to the HP fuels reduction project plans and outreach efforts. These data are being used to monitor ongoing efforts of the USFS to include local communities in the HP fuels reduction and forest health project and to provide other community benefits. The survey results can be downloaded from:

Community Responses to Corporate Timberland Divestment

The Bolle Center continues to conduct research and provide assistance in a variety of ways to partnerships involved in purchasing and providing social and ecologically sustainable alternatives to the sale and sub-division of former corporate timberlands. The timber industry refers to former timberlands that bring higher financial returns as real estate rather than for timber, and selected for divestment, as "higher and better use lands." For information about the two largest and successful efforts to purchase former Plum Creek timber lands see The Montana Legacy Project and The Blackfoot Community Project.

Documenting Landowner Views in the Upper Swan and Ovando Valleys

Supported by grants from the Kendall and Kelley Foundations, The Bolle Center has been conducting participatory research with rural communities in Western Montana where corporate timber lands are being divested and local efforts are being organized to acquire and manage forest parcels to avoid fragmentation and conversion of forests. Some lands will be acquired and managed as community forests and others through cooperative agreements with adjacent landowners. The Bolle Center has assisted with gathering and documenting the views of residents and others towards these efforts.

Results from the Blackfoot Community Conservation Area Survey (conducted in collaboration with the Blackfoot Challenge and Ali Duvall) can be downloaded from The survey was conducted via the mail during October - December 2004 to all landowners adjacent to the proposed Blackfoot Community Conservation Area, a 5,600 acre parcel near Ovando Mountain. More information on the BCCA can be found at links provided on the above summary.

Results from the Upper Swan Valley Land Use Survey, a mail survey of full time residents, part-time residents and others involved in Swan Valley land use issues, can be downloaded from click on Landscape Analysis on the side task bar. The final report is included in Appendix F-Trends and Issues Survey.