Desertification can be effectively managed only through a thorough understanding of its principal ecological, socio-cultural, and economic driving forces. This has stimulated research that pays specific attention to the social causes and consequences of land use change and land degradation. Improving the management of complex environmental problems through land use planning has resulted in policy makers becoming increasingly aware of the need to place emphasis upon problem analysis. This has involved placing greater institutional value upon widening the decision-making community to include actors not normally considered as 'experts' but who possess equally valid and valuable knowledge and perspectives of the realities of the problems affecting their region. Active involvement of the wider stakeholder community can play a crucial function in better consideration of problems by identifying different stakeholder perspectives, provide an active learning arena for all those involved, and provide an interactive basis necessary for generating joined-up thinking. Scenario construction is one such approach that can be used to actively engage stakeholders. This paper will describe the theory surrounding interactive stakeholder involvement, reflecting upon a two-part workshop process for undertaking a participatory scenario construction process in the Northern Mediterranean region. The case study will be used to illustrate the opportunities such interactive approaches can provide for communities having to deal with complex issues surrounding their region. The focus is upon creating greater awareness of the value and need for more fundamental institutional recognition in support of greater actor involvement and interactive dialogue in problem definition, planning and decision-making. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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