Key Considerations in Stakeholder Engagement
- Stakeholders should be engaged throughout the entire planning process.
- Engaging stakeholders early in the process of restoration (i.e., during the planning phase) can help the project adapt to achieve multiple objectives that may not have otherwise been considered. Because different stakeholders may have competing interests, it is necessary to reconcile such differences to avoid potential conflicts.
- Engaging stakeholders and community groups in the early stages can encourage local stewardship for the restoration site because of a sense of project ownership. Providing the local community with shared ownership in the project is crucial for success and sustainability. Doing so can lead to co-management of resources, ref and help reduce costs by providing field assistance, nursery maintenance, and a steady flow of volunteers. In Belize, for instance, the organization Fragments of Hope provides alternative livelihoods to fishermen and tourism operations during the off-season and has a steady workforce for coral restoration that has ownership of the restored reefs.
- Risks associated with coral restoration should be clearly understood among all partners prior to implementing the project. For instance, climate change events or predator outbreaks can cause significant harm to a restoration project but often are out of the control of restoration practitioners. Discussing these risks and how they will be managed or mitigated can set the correct assumptions and expectations for project partners.