Excursions will be on Monday, June 10, 2013

We have planned four very exciting excursions, all of which will take place in the region around Uppsala or slightly north from here. Each excursion expresses a unique Environmental Communication situation that will mirror the conference themes of deliberative democracy, public participation, concern for the Commons and conflict management. Total fees for each excursion will be 650SEK/100US and this includes transportation costs, lunch and refreshments during the day. Each excursion will be day long and travel will be to and from Uppsala city.

If you choose to join the excursion at the end of the Conference, you will be asked when doing your on-line registration to mark your order of preferences among the four excursions beginning from 1st to the 4th preference.

What has been planned thus far by our excursion committee is subject to change based on the feedback we receive from participants following the registration process. We reserve the right to omit the excursions that receive a low level of interest and to change the location due to extenuating circumstances.

The excursion remains an optional extra in the Conference program but we hope that you choose to take part in learning more about Environmental Communication taking place in the beautiful landscapes of northern Sweden.


Excursion option #1

Destination: Lake Tämnaren, 45 minutes north of Uppsala

Duration: Full Day, lunch included

Price: 650 SEK/100US

The Lake Tämnaren - ’Reinventing the commons in the inveigling shadows of stakeholders’

Welcome to this excursion traveling to the biggest lake in the county of Uppland: Lake Tämnaren. The lake is located approximately 45 min north of Uppsala and is a part of the ecological network of protected areas within the territory of the European Union labeled ‘Natura 2000’.

The lake offers a huge hydrological challenge being very eutrophic with a surface of 38 square kilometers, but an average depth of just 1 meter. Many water level adjustments of the lake have been made the past 50 years. Initially, the water level was decreased in order to obtain more land for farming around the lake. Lately, there has been a shift towards increasing the water level, due to the risk of bottom freezing leading to what could be an ecological disaster.

On a regulatory level, the Lake Tämnaren is also closely tied to the implementation of the European Water Framework Directive. The directive requires ecological changes as well as the involvement of the public. The effort to restore Lake Tämnaren, however, constitutes several social conflicts and dilemmas between various stakeholders such as farmers, recreational interests and governmental agencies. As such the lake mirrors various kinds of social and ecological values, understandings, knowledge and contradictions.

In order to deal with the social conflicts and dilemmas, a full scale social experiment has been launched by the local Water council and researchers from Environmental Communication at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). The traditional stakeholder approach is being replaced by a strong and deliberative citizen approach, creating a space for the local population to identify the common interest across particular interests. The process is departing from the visions and questions of the local community, instead of what the experts and governmental agencies would normally suggest.  

This excursion will bring us to the beautiful shores of Lake Tämnaren where we will meet and talk to some of the local actors. We will hear about the different perspectives and visions developed by the locals and learn how the locals try to realize these visions combining their own values and experience with different kinds of expert knowledge in order to recreate the notion of the commons in a practical and useful way. We will also learn about some of the more institutional barriers for changes. Last, but not least, we will enjoy our lunch at one of the beautiful and historical churches by the lakeside.


Excursion Option #2

Destination: Uppland

Duration: Full Day, lunch included

Price: 650SEK/100US

The Right of Public Access in Sweden - The Erosion of the Commons?

Welcome to join this excursion where you’ll explore the Swedish right of public access to land (the freedom to roam) out in the beautiful Uppland landscape. You will experience nature on private land, meet landowners, NGOs and authority representatives who will share their perspectives on this issue. This full day activity will have a touch of outdoor recreation, still on a level that doesn’t require any previous skills. Lunch will be included, and provided as a picnic box. You will just need to bring appropriate shoes/footwear and clothes (even being prepared for rainy weather).

The right of public access to private land in Sweden has been customary since the medieval times. Although the right of public access is mentioned in the constitution, it is not in detail regulated by law;  it is a freedom that is rather defined as free space between other laws, such as the ownership rights. However, the right of public access as a manifestation of the commons is contested. There is only one Swedish legal case on the right of public access, and that one settled that you are allowed to organize commercial activities on someone else’s private land, as long as you don’t make any damage. That means, for example, that you can arrange (commercial) activities there such as renting canoes, but not causing erosion to the shore. In these days there is in fact a process going on, run by the SEPA (Swedish EPA), where different actors could contribute in the future development of the public access. You will be introduced to this large scale process and it’s communicative dimensions.

A societal value that comes with the public access is the notion of nature as a representation of the commons. Hereby nature constitutes both a forum and a subject for public deliberation, a democratic component that could contribute to sustainable development. This public deliberation, however, might not occur spontaneously, and might need some kind of facilitation. To this workshop we will also invite nature interpreters to act as facilitators for deliberation on the commons as well as facilitating our nature experience. Out in the field, we will explore the implications and the limitations of public access. In order to illustrate the tensions around this issue, we will both visit protected sites high in nature and culture values, but also “ordinary” nature, and get introduced to the special case from last summer, when more than 300 foreign berry pickers ended up in a huge camp in a forest outside of Mehedeby in Northern Uppland – leading to questions about the limitations of public access.


Excursion Option #3

Destination: Nedre Dalälven, 1.5 hours north of Uppsala

Duration: Full Day, lunch included

Price: 650SEK/100US

Of Mosquitoes and Men - Deliberation of knowledge and values in a contested area

This excursion will bring you to the highly debated region of the Nedre Dalälven. This is one of Sweden’s most valuable nature areas with one of the country’s biggest rivers shaping a landscape of water and 200 islands with rich biodiversity, a variety of nature types and amazing scenery. The Nedre Dalälven region with the river and the surrounding land has many different forms of protection like nature reserves, Natura 2000 and as the UNESCO-listed Färnebofjärden National Park. The river is considered to be on the biological border between southern and northern Sweden with forests from the north meeting the agriculture from the south. There is also an economic interest in the river since it is partly exploited by a water power plant, which is one of Sweden’s biggest energy sources. During recent years due to floods, the area has suffered the mass occurrence of aggressive mosquitoes to the extent that it has decreased the quality of life for the people inhabiting the area. This has been solved by a nationally debated program of biological spraying.

Different attempts have been made to ask scientific expertise on alternatives to how to improve the mosquito situation given the many interests that there are in the region. Since 2011, an interesting landscape strategy project titled, “People, mosquitoes and nature by Nedre Dalälven,” is created to find alternative solutions where the mosquitoes can be reduced while maintaining high biodiversity in the area. These alternatives might include management of semi-natural pastures and regulating the amount of land covered by water. The project design is interesting since it includes working groups consisting of civil servants from the CAB (County Administration Board) and the people living in the area. These groups are to design the work and can consult experts in different areass. One aim of the project is to improve the dialogue between authorities and citizens. A group of researchers from Environmental Communication at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) has recently evaluated the success of this project.

The site is about 1.5 hours travel away from Uppsala by bus and we will be away a full day. During the excursion you will learn about the design of the landscape strategy project from staff from the CAB and researchers from SLU, hear about the experiences of the inhabitants, see the visitor’s center focusing on sustainable development and the national park, and travel in this beautiful area. Lunch will be served at a nice restaurant founded in 1754 at Gysingebruk Wärdshus along the water. You will also be able to experience the mosquitoes yourself and depending on how far the hatching has progressed we will choose to take a walk in the area.


Excursion Option #4

Destination: Järvsö

Duration: Full Day, lunch included

Price: 650SEK/100US

Big Carnivores in Sweden – Communication and democracy in a polarized NRM conflict

The management of big carnivores (wolf, lynx, bear, wolverine, Golden eagle) is a contested and sensitive issue in the Swedish public debate; especially the presence of wolves in Swedish fauna, which has caused tensions among hunters, farmers, nature conservationists and authorities. The Swedish policy is to manage the wolf population in order to ensure the long term existence of a healthy population, and to limit and/or compensate farmers for the economical losses caused by predation on domestic animals.

Some actors think the wolf population is too big and that their predation on moose and domestic animals is a serious and unacceptable threat towards rural livelihoods, and traditional Swedish culture as well as nature values. Other actors claim the wolf population is too small to be long term sustainable due to inbreeding and limited genetic variation. Yet others claim humans have no right to limit or restrict the opportunities for wild animals, like the wolves. The authorities are trying to navigate between these different opinions and claim that their decisions are based on scientific knowledge. In doing so, they are criticized from at least two positions at the same time; on the one hand, for not doing enough to save traditional cultural values, to prioritize animals rather than people, for being hijacked by the pro-wolf opinion, and on the other hand, they are criticized for not doing enough for endangered carnivores, for breaking international protection conventions and agreements, for prioritizing short term human commercial benefits rather than nature values.

Wolves have been illegally killed, authority representatives working in the field have had their car tires cut, hunters have been threatened, and farmers have given up their farming activities. In order to reduce conflict the authorities have invented new institutions for “participative” decision making. Another attempt to reduce the conflict has been to fund information activities, including two visitor centers with exhibitions about carnivores (including humans), aiming to increase citizens’ understanding of the public carnivore policy, increasing dialogue and reducing tensions.    

In this excursion, we will go to the geographical core of the wolf territory, meeting with authority representatives, farmers, hunters, nature conservationists and interpreters at the carnivore visitor center, listening to their respective narratives about their view and experience; of carnivores of course, but also, and foremost, environmental communication and participation in deliberative processes.

We will travel from Uppsala by train which will take us from one of the most urbanized areas of Sweden, the Stockholm-Uppsala region, to a rural community, Järvsö. This rural community promotes strong traditional norms about agriculture, forestry, hunting and livelihoods, including an element of tourist entrepreneurship, all well within a dense wolf, bear and lynx population. The excursion will be a long day with an early start. Weather permitting, half the day will be spent outside. Rough clothes and footwear are to be preferred. We will provide lunch and energy boosts during the day.


Photo credits: Hans Peter Hansen, Hans Peter Hansen, County Administrative Board of Uppsala, Susanne Lind/Fjällripans blogg, Gysingebruk Wärdshus & Konferenshotell, Göran Widerberg, BMJ/Shutterstock, Anna-Carin Åsbrink.