Voluntary Planning*, an arm's length board of the provincial government, was tasked with identifying and assessing citizen values, concerns, and visions about the province's natural resources. They focused in the areas of biodiversity, forests, geological resources, and provincial parks. Voluntary Planning solicited citizens to sit on a Lands and Forestry Citizen Engagement Committee that convened and chaired a series of 27 public meetings across the province between May and June 2008.
More than 2,000 Nova Scotians attended the public meetings, or one of three values workshops held in the fall of 2009. Over 600 written and phone submissions were received, making this one of the Nova Scotia government's most successful public engagement efforts to date in terms of the level and quality of citizen participation.
Voluntary Planning's Lands and Forestry Citizen Engagement Committee released the Phase 1 report titled Our Common Ground The Future of Nova Scotia's Lands and Forestry: on April 17, 2009. This report describes and discusses the broad public values heard during this public engagement process. These values include:
This report, as well as submissions, and details from the community meetings and workshops provided a strong foundation for the remaining two phases of the natural resources strategy development process.
* Note: In 2010 Voluntary Planning Board resources were moved into a central agency thereby building new capacity to strengthen consultation practices across government and to transfer knowledge and skills to front-line staff in every department. This new unit provides support and training on strategies, standards and best practices, and helps co-ordinate events to ensure optimal public participation.