In this GIFT-T! manual theoretical background information, examples of GIFT-T! processes and many tools have been introduced. However, the approach has to be made specific for local application by filling it in with local data, local knowledge and local experience.
Making the planning approach specific to your case is very important. First, because every planning case is unique through its landscape and cultural history, through its distance to urban agglomerations or through the level of empowerment of the local community. Secondly, because the planning process is full of surprises, partly caused by external events.
Start with developing a plan to engage stakeholders by using the roadmap that will guide you through the steps of the GIFT-T! approach. The roadmap and the tools will help you to relate and to work with other stakeholders and will help you to convince people to be engaged in the network.
When applying the GIFT-T approach, expect surprises! The outcome may be different than you expected. The ‘ideal’ process does not exist and you will soon be confronted with many dilemmas and questions:
- what stakeholders to ask for the sessions.
- how many stakeholder should be involved in sessions and are there other ways to engage the local actors.
- is it necessary to tell about ecosystem services, or is it possible to work on goal setting without even mentioning ecosystem services? There will be tension between providing information and creating local involvement.
- how to make sure that the stakeholders feel free to think and speak about their dreams and ideas.
- the input of (scientific) knowledge about the area increases the (ecological) content of the process, but it also asks for data, effort and time in the process. Using maps or economic valuation tool depends on who is involved and what strategy is needed to convince them.
- Remember that the unpredictability, or surprising route, of the social process is inherent to the complex character of the social-ecological system.
The roadmap offers you a route along subsequent steps in the process and the tools that are developed or adapted for the GIFT-T! approach.