Skip to Main Content
Chapter 12: Integrating social, ecological, and economic factors in sustainable recreation planning and decisionmakingAuthor(s): Dale J. Blahna; Jeffrey D. Kline; Daniel R. Williams; Karla Rogers; Anna B. Miller; Stephen F. McCool; Francisco Valenzuela
Source: In: Selin, Steven; Cerveny, Lee K.; Blahna, Dale J.; Miller, Anna B., eds. 2020. Igniting research for outdoor recreation: linking science, policy, and action. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-987. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 257 p.
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (633.0 KB)
DescriptionSustainability science “transcends the concerns of its foundational disciplines and focuses instead on understanding the complex dynamics that arise from interactions between human and environmental systems” (Clark 2007: 1737). This is reflected by McCool and Kline (2019), who stated that “…a systems thinking approach views problems within a context of interacting social and ecological systems…,” and that implementing systems thinking requires that we “explicitly recognize connections and relationships between people and their natural heritage.” Thus, systems thinking requires integrating multidisciplinary information. However, Egler’s observation cautions us about the challenge of shifting into systems thinking from the current “normal science” paradigm that dominates land management agency culture (Williams 2017). Agencies rarely have the time, budget, or expertise available for collecting and analyzing comprehensive landscape-level data. We propose that an important consideration for applying systems thinking in practice is identifying and integrating issue-specific social, ecological, and economic data while focusing on key analyses and relationships that provide enough information to help evaluate outcomes of specific management or policy actions (Ackoff 1967). This is more of a “bottom up,” issue-driven approach to integration, which focuses on concrete problems and place-based issues (Blahna et al. 2017a, 2017b; Williams 2017), as opposed to “top down,” standardized or metric-driven approaches that are common in systems analysis (Hoos 1983).
- Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationBlahna, Dale J.; Kline, Jeffrey D.; Williams, Daniel R.; Rogers, Karla; Miller, Anna B.; McCool, Stephen F.; Valenzuela, Francisco. 2020. Chapter 12: Integrating social, ecological, and economic factors in sustainable recreation planning and decisionmaking. In: Selin, Steven; Cerveny, Lee K.; Blahna, Dale J.; Miller, Anna B., eds. 2020. Igniting research for outdoor recreation: linking science, policy, and action. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-987. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 173-188.
KeywordsOutdoor recreation, tourism, public lands, research.
- Chapter 1: The shifting outdoor recreation paradigm: Time for change
- Igniting research for outdoor recreation: linking science, policy, and action
- Learning from the sound: Introducing this place and this volume
XML: View XML