The participation of citizens in land use planning and decision-making in Northern areas – the potential of PPGIS in increasing interaction

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Science Centre Pilke, Rovaniemi. Remote connection: https://oulu.zoom.us/j/67253574734

Topic of the dissertation

The participation of citizens in land use planning and decision-making in Northern areas – the potential of PPGIS in increasing interaction

Doctoral candidate

Master of Science Sini Kantola

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Science, Geography Research Unit

Subject of study

Geography

Opponent

Adjunct professor Riikka Puhakka, University of Helsinki

Custos

Professor Jarkko Saarinen, University of Oulu

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The participation of citizens in land use planning and decision-making in Northern areas – the potential of PPGIS in increasing interaction

This doctoral dissertation studies the use of the public participation geographic information system (PPGIS) in land use planning and decision-making in sparsely populated Northern regions. These regions pose a specific challenge for planning. In those regions, land ownership by the state or the municipality is general and there are many different interests in the same regions. The reconciliation of different land uses is essential because of the many interests, e.g., tourism, nature conservation, mining, forestry, indigenous people, interests of locals and non-locals, recreation and reindeer herding. The relevant question is who and which interests lead land use planning and decisions. The main research question is: What types of practices and knowledge does PPGIS bring to public participation in land use planning in Northern regions?

The results show that the maintenance and development of the participation possibilities in land use planning are an important part of democratic society. It is essential to maintain discussion, debate, criticism and right of appeal. In the Northern regions with many land use interests, there is no one right way to involve people. The participation is context sensitive; the involvement process and involvement groups need to be estimated in every situation, place and context.

PPGIS has the possibility to improve interaction in sparsely populated regions. The benefits of PPGIS appeared strongly for different data, for example, visually and presenting data on the map in the spatial mode, the possibility to virtually and remotely collect information from a big audience (both locals and non-locals) and the possibility to handle and combine a large amount of digitalized, spatial data. PPGIS can encourage people to participate in the land use planning processes due to its characteristics of maintaining anonymity.

It is essential that PPGIS method is used for the real, and even acute, land use needs and thus, motivating respondents to answer is easier and the likelihood of the results being used increases. The interest of the organizational managers toward the PPGIS method is essential so that the benefits would be as strong as possible.

The PPGIS method cannot replace other participation methods, but it is good to view as one tool in participation and collecting social spatial data. Making an internet-based PPGIS survey is relatively easy, but it is relevant to use sufficiently deep analysis after gathering the data, for example, with GIS analyzing methods. Systematic storing of PPGIS data in the IT-system of the organization is crucial so that the information is subsequently easy to access.

In this research, the participation in land use planning processes in sparsely populated Northern regions has been examined and participation possibilities have been developed with a mixed method approach. Both qualitative and quantitative methods have been used in the data collection and analysis. The research is a case study and three different sets of data have been collected from Finnish Lapland, sparsely populated regions, from 2015–2019. This research used electronic and paper PPGIS, interviews and studying reports and documents.
Last updated: 13.12.2021