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Ms Caroline Dunn

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Ms Caroline Dunn
PhD student

Topic: Making sense of social research in forestry

University of Melbourne

Email: cajdunn@yahoo.com.au

This project is part of the Communities Project in the Trees in the Landscape research programme. I explore how Communities project researchers work together with CRC Forestry partners with the aim of understanding how the Communities projects can make a contribution to forest management; helping with the social side of forestry. My research has been layered ‘over’ the other Communities projects (although I am based at the University of Melbourne and have been involved in conducting the study of community attitudes towards plantation forestry).

Over two and half years, I worked with the partners of the Communities project to:

· Develop a basic understanding of how social research is already making a difference for people in the forestry industry

· Help build the skills and capacity of 1. researchers to deliver industry relevant research and 2. industry partners to find practical uses for the research

· Develop a framework for thinking about how social research can and might make a difference in Australian forestry, and in other areas where researchers are working with industry in areas of changing land use

My research method was partially action research and also took a reflexive approach to practicing research where the (unavoidably subjective) role of the researcher is utilized in a positive way to better understand the dynamics of doing social research in forestry. The relationships that I developed with the partners of the Communities project provided me with the opportunity to do the research, and I used a narrative ethnographic approach to record and analyze these interactions. This involved narrating the research results in an authentic and open way.

I began this project in July 2006 after qualifying for a Master of Environment at The University of Melbourne. The interdisciplinary Master degree consisted of part coursework and part research and followed transition from my previous life as an accountant. I studied a range of academic disciplines; from biophysical sciences to anthropology and sociology. My research included social research based in Thailand around community forestry. From this work, I am convinced that solutions for sustainable land management lie in bringing together different ways of knowing.

My other association includes employment as an accountant for Earthwatch Insittute Australia.