Identifying and framing the transboundary decision problem
The first step is to form a core team composed of two structured-decision-making (SDM) coaches with skills in decision analysis and workshop facilitation along with one authority representing each protected area in the transboundary region. In consultation with park directors, one primary contact person is identified as having the necessary knowledge and time availability to participate in the entire decision process. The core team then holds a series of conference calls or meetings to identify a joint transboundary management question. Between calls, the core team reviews any available management plans from the two respective protected areas and a guidance document on transboundary cooperation between the parks to identify shared management topics. The core team then formulates a concise 1-sentence transboundary conservation question, which summarizes the focal decision, associated objectives, and time-horizon: “Over the next 10 years, how can the managers of Triglav National Park and Julian Prealps Nature Park allocate their resources to best satisfy all stakeholders concerned about brown bears in the Julian Alps?”
During a stakeholder workshop where the decision analysis was conducted, 10 of 12 participants provided independent feedback on each step of the SDM process via a questionnaire. Of the 10 respondents, 9 indicated that the decision question was clear and relevant to their own interests, which confirmed that the problem framing and question were valid for developing a solution.
Authorities from the respective parks found it useful to independently determine whether there would be added value of transboundary cooperation on planned activities listed in their management plans and transboundary guidance document. The authorities also indicated that management of brown bear is relevant for multiple objectives for both protected areas and invokes strong interest in their stakeholder communities. By focusing on brown bear, the managers believed that it would be easier to engage a diverse set of stakeholders in addressing a key transboundary conservation issue and could serve as a useful example for applying SDM and transboundary conservation to other management topics in the Julian Alps and beyond.