Research into Practice

Digital Stakeholder Engagement Proves Crucial for Deciding on a Hunting Concession in Nuuk

October 6, 2023
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Maptionnaire is a part of the ArcticHubs research project, providing its spatial engagement solution for involving stakeholders — indigenous people, hunters and fishers, tourists, and administrators — in decision-making about the land and sea/fjord use in the Arctic region. 

In a project from Greenland, the engagement data gathered with Maptionnaire was directly used by the Nuuk municipality when deciding on a controversial issue about granting a concession for trophy hunting in a hunting area in the bottom of Nuuk Fjord. Kristine Lynge-Pedersen, Researcher at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, leads the local hub within the project, focusing on the indigenous people and tourism. She has shared her experience of using Maptionnaire for engaging stakeholders on a conflicting issue, as well as about public participation habits in Greenland in general.

It was not just a research project made by sitting at the office in front of the computer and writing about collected data. We had stakeholder involvement and together we had good dialogues about the conflict and how to design a survey about the initiative to establish a concession.
Kristine Lynge-Pedersen, Researcher at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources

Stakeholder Engagement: The Usual Way and the Maptionnaire Way 

Before ArcticHubs, Kristine didn't have a chance to work with PPGIS tools (public participation GIS is at the heart of Maptionnaire). Once learning about the platform, she thought of it as a great fit for the Greenlandic context. 

In Greenland, there are several laws mentioning that citizens should be involved in resource management. Therefore, there are a lot of public hearings where planners from the government or municipality present different initiatives or projects, but only a few local residents, organizations, institutions and affected business owners show up to these community meetings. Typically, there will be a long speech presenting the project but no deeper dialogue between the participants. 

a view of Nuuk from Maptionnaire's visit to the municipality
Maptinonaire team on a visit to Nuuk to consult on local participation processes.

In contrast to the usual procedure, Maptionnaire can be used for gathering diverse indigenous perspectives on a specific matter and using these insights in decision-making. Even the term “indigenous” is quite problematic in the Greenlandic context, and any research on it requires a nuanced and collaborative approach, remarks Kristine. 

The inclusion of local knowledge and indigenous knowledge [in the planning process] is currently very limited. But I am very hopeful that Maptionnaire’s PPGIS tool can change that.
Kristine Lynge-Pedersen, Researcher at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources

If the indigenous people don't want to show up at public hearings, they could want to give their opinions or feedback via Maptionnaire’s PPGIS survey from their homes. To test this assumption, Kristine chose a relevant contesting issue regarding the setup of a hunting concession.

Trophy Hunting Concession Stirs Disagreements

But what’s the discord about? The municipality suggested setting up a trophy hunting concession in Nunatarsuaq not far from Nuuk. It means that the concession owner is the only one that can offer trophy hunting in that area, but the local hunters are still allowed to go hunting in the concession area.

In Greenland, the inhabitants have a common ownership of the land, the sea, and natural resources. If someone has lived in Greenland for more than 2 years, they also get the right of collective ownership.

The concession formation allows the indigenous hunters to continue hunting in the area. But the increased hunting activity will disrupt the traditional hunting that has been going on there for generations. This strong discontent was expressed already at the first public hearing arranged by the municipality. As the concession project affects several groups (including tourist operators who would like to set up a concession and indigenous hunters who have used this land area for generations), an effective stakeholder engagement was a must. 

In order to understand various perspectives, analyze these opinions, and aid the decision-making process, Kristine piloted an engagement process with a PPGIS survey built with Maptionnaire.

a screenshot of Maptionnaire webpage set up to show the survey results from Nuuk
Maptionnaire also created a website where the results of the participation were presented. Additionally, viewers could submit comments and discuss the outcomes.

Survey Design Should Maintain Sensibility to the Local Context

In survey design, it’s important to maintain sensibility to local contexts. It boils down to the language you use, the images that appear in your survey, and even the options you provide in multiple-choice questions. To ensure that the survey reflects local context, it was essential to listen to preliminary stakeholder meetings to catch their language and attitudes — and then use those in the survey. 

Kristine enthusiastically welcomed assistance from Maptionnaire in survey design because it gave her more time to recruit stakeholders and plan stakeholder meetings. These outreach activities ensured that enough people participated in the survey. 

When creating the survey, it was so helpful to have a professional from Maptionnaire — Kirsi Forss — to assist. Kirsi helped with the survey design and she understood our needs well, especially given the difficult context of working with diverse cultural elements. 
Kristine Lynge-Pedersen, Researcher at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources

The Public Outreach Was Crucial

At the beginning of the process, Kristine issued a press release and a journalist from the nationwide radio KNR reacted and asked for a radio interview to find out more about the PPGIS survey and how it can help to involve as many people as possible to discuss critical issues. This collaboration with the media became an essential part of outreach activities and ensured that various stakeholders knew about the process.

The journalist interviewed Kristine together with some of the stakeholders three times, giving every side of the concession conflict a space to share their voice — as well as a chance to spread the news about the survey and its results.

An interesting finding of the PPGIS survey was that the respondents felt ill-informed by the municipality about the concession issue. Subsequently, this lack of information and engagement became one of the main arguments for rejecting the concession proposal. Politicians now encourage the planners to spend more time and effort on informing and involving residents and stakeholders in such developing projects next time.

Maptionnaire Made Engagement Results Interactive and Impactful

The results of the PPGIS survey were presented as a traditional written report which Kristine published online together with a press announcement and shared with the decision-makers. 

Uniquely, the results were also presented online on an interactive webpage designed on Maptionnaire Platform (that you can check out here). The results were not just plainly reported there but plunged into the local context and arranged into a story. Digital storytelling gave participants an option not only to explore the results but also to share their feedback via map-based discussions. 

a screenshot from maptionnaire results page
In Maptionnaire, you can easily create a results page that shows the data from engagement surveys. You can also integrate discussion elements to inspire more interaction among participants.

Not all the respondents used this option — most were satisfied with learning about them through the traditional report and via radio programs. But of course, there is a limit to how much involvement you can ask from residents in a busy city. 

Kristine is eager to conduct another PPGIS survey around a topic with a similar conflict of interest. There, it will be highlighted from the very beginning that the results will be presented on a digital platform. This way, the scholars will test if stakeholders and residents are interested in not only being informed about and engaged in the planning process but also are willing to comment on the results. 

PPGIS Results Influenced the Municipal Decision

Crucially, these engagement efforts were not in vain: the municipality used the written report in its decision-making process, even though they were not obliged to do so. Although the PPGIS study wasn’t done by the municipality itself, its methodology and process resembled mandatory hearings (but conducted in a digital format), making the results easier to integrate into their processes. Eventually, the idea of setting up a trophy hunting concession was rejected.

Also, the PPGIS study engaged more people than a public hearing. The municipality has received only nine answers (only one of which supported the concession) – a low number of respondents is typical for these processes. The Maptionnaire survey, on the other hand, engaged 44 respondents, most of whom were also against setting up a concession. Not being a big number as such, it is still significantly higher than the number of stakeholders engaged through the public hearing. 

One reason for this is that a public hearing has a very high threshold for participating. You need to attend a meeting and then submit a letter regarding the issue. It takes too much of participants’ free time — filling in the PPGIS survey has proven to be much faster and more intuitive.


  1. Maptionnaire’s PPGIS survey proved helpful in engaging people wherever and whenever they are and lowering participation threshold. Locals and stakeholders don’t need to come to public meetings and send lengthy letters but can answer a digital map-based survey, sharing their opinions and suggestions there. 
  2. Digital engagement can be made sensitive and responsive to local needs and contexts. which was especially crucial in the Greenlandic context.
  3. Even though online engagement is convenient for most people, you still need to guide potential respondents to the survey page. Press releases and media collaborations are immensely helpful here.
  4. The results of this PPGIS study were used in the decision-making process, even though the study was not a part of the official hearing process. The municipality eventually decided to reject the concession proposal.

Learn how PPGIS affects policymaking and engagement culture in Nuuk within the ArcticHubs project. 

Maptionnaire provides PPGIS solution and expertise for your research projects.

Learn more about Maptionnaire for research

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