Journal Article

Social licence as social contract: procedural fairness and forest agreement-making in Australia

Justine Lacey, Peter Edwards and Julian Lamont

in Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research

Volume 89, issue 5, pages 489-499
Published in print September 2016 | ISSN: 0015-752X
Published online October 2016 | e-ISSN: 1464-3626 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/forestry/cpw027
Social licence as social contract: procedural fairness and forest agreement-making in Australia

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The term, social licence to operate, has been used in the forestry sector since the mid to late 1990s to refer to the broad approval or acceptance that communities, the wider public and other stakeholders afford to industry's management of forest resources. In this context, the social licence has also been described as a form of social contract, which often implies a negotiation that involves government actors. Increasingly, members of society are taking an active interest in how forest resources are used and developed, and seeking to participate in decision-making that has traditionally been the exclusive domain of industry and government. In this paper, we examine this parallel between social licence and social contract with a particular focus on the role of procedural fairness for public and other stakeholders in forest agreement-making, and the role of the state in brokering those agreements. In making this assessment, we provide a critical review of historical documentation relating to the development of Regional Forest Agreements (RFA) in Australia. These agreements were designed to assist multiple layers of government work collaboratively with industry, public and other stakeholders to provide security around forest resources to industry and conservationists, mediate tension in Australian forest management, and preserve the environmental, heritage and social values of the nation's forests. In our review of the documentation relating to the RFA process, we summarise recent research on the processes and failures of social agreement-making that highlight how and why procedural fairness is a critical factor for achieving broad and localised societal acceptance of forest management regimes.

Journal Article.  10462 words. 

Subjects: Environmental Sustainability ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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