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Coping with uncertainty: regulation, decision making and learning in natural resource management

About this project

Project information

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Rolf Lidskog

Research subject

It is more the rule than the exception that governmental agencies make decisions based on insufficient or uncertain knowledge. In most cases, organizations have developed strategies to deal with cognitive, strategic, institutional and normative uncertainty. However, when the economic stakes are high and there are demands for fast and firm decisions, cognitive uncertainty creates problems. Regulatory agencies commonly solicit expert knowledge so as to develop relevant and efficient regulation and recommendations. Conflicting pressures are put on experts, who are asked to rapidly give advice that is relevant, transparent and scientifically valid.

This project analyses how actors deal with uncertainty with regard to biodiversity. In particular, it will investigate how cognitive uncertainties are interpreted and transformed into recommendations to and action by forest managers. The role of uncertainty in decision making related to i) regular decision-making in forestry operation; ii) the major insect outbreaks following the storm Gudrun which hit south Sweden in 2005. By investigating both regular decision-making and an extreme case, the study will produce knowledge about decision-making under uncertainty with regard to biodiversity. Guiding research question is how do regulatory agencies deal with conflicting demands in managing natural resources under conditions of great uncertainty both in day to day management and in extreme cases?