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Shifting nature conservation approaches in Natura 2000 and the implications for the roles of stakeholders



This paper analyses Natura 2000 as a shifting configuration of different approaches to nature conservation and discusses the consequences of these shifts for the roles of the stakeholders affected by this policy. Natura 2000 started with a technocratic approach that privileged conservation experts and marginalised socio-economic stakeholders. Over time, this approach has been complemented with participatory and economic approaches that offered scope for the inclusion of land users and business actors. However, the analysis also shows that the selective inclusion of economic values and stakeholders in the Natura 2000 framework risks marginalising other important socio-environmental actors.
This is a revised personal version of the article published in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. Please cite as:
Ferranti, F., Turnhout, E., Beunen, R., Behagel, J.H. (2013) Shifting nature conservation approaches in Natura 2000 and the
implications for the roles of stakeholders. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management (online first, DOI:
Shifting nature conservation approaches in Natura 2000 and the
implications for the roles of stakeholders
Francesca Ferranti
, Esther Turnhout
, Raoul Beunen
and Jelle Behagel
a European Forest Institute Central Regional Office (EFICENT) , Wonnhaldestrasse 4, 79100 , Freiburg , Germany
b Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group , Wageningen University , PO Box 47, 6700 , AA Wageningen , The Netherlands
c Strategic Communication Group , Wageningen University, PO Box 8130, 6700 EW Wageningen , The Netherlands
d Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development-Innovation Studies , Utrecht University , PO Box 80125, 3508 , TC Utrecht , The Netherlands
This article analyses Natura 2000 as a shifting configuration of different approaches to nature
conservation and discusses the consequences of these shifts for the roles of the stakeholders affected by
this policy. Natura 2000 started with a technocratic approach that privileged conservation experts and
marginalised socio-economic stakeholders. Over time, this approach has been complemented with
participatory and economic approaches that offered scope for the inclusion of land users and business
actors. However, the analysis also shows that the selective inclusion of economic values and stakeholders
in the Natura 2000 framework risks marginalising other important socio-environmental actors.
Keywords: Natura 2000, Habitats Directive, discourse analysis, interpretative policy analysis,
Natura 2000 is the ecological network of protected
areas designed by the European Union (EU) to ensure
the long term survival of habitats and species that
represent European biodiversity (European
Commission, 2009). The Habitats Directive assigns a
central role to scientific knowledge in the selection
and monitoring of the habitats and species listed in
its annexes (European Council Directive 92/43/EEC;
Julien et al., 2000; Alphandéry and Fortier, 2001;
Paavola, 2004). Despite this focus on scientific
knowledge, the Habitats Directive states that the
management of Natura 2000 sites must consider
‘economic, social, cultural and regional requirements’
(European Council Directive 92/43/EEC) and
recognise humans as integral rather than external
factors of nature (European Commission, 2009). Many
of the habitat types and species protected by Natura
2000 occur in semi-natural territories and the
Habitats Directive, in principle, does not exclude
human activities from Natura 2000 sites (European
Commission, 2005). This integration of ecological and
socio-economic criteria in Natura 2000 allows
conceiving of nature conservation as an opportunity
for - rather than an obstacle to - human activities
(European Commission, 2005; Palerm, 2006). This
has been said to contribute to the general objective of
‘sustainable development’ (European Commission,
2009). As a consequence of the integral role assigned
by the Habitats Directive to socio-economic activities
in nature, and also as a result of social claims
criticising the strict scientific foundation of Natura
2000 and demanding stronger inclusion (Julien et al.,
2000; Alphandéry and Fortier, 2001), local non-
governmental stakeholders have increasingly been
called to participate in policy processes at the
European level (Rauschmayer et al., 2009; Beunen
and Duineveld, 2010). In recent years, this focus on
participation has been complemented with an
economic focus on the financing and the socio-
economic costs and benefits of Natura 2000 (Haslett
et al., 2010).
The shift towards participation in Natura 2000
reflects broader trends in EU environmental policy
and governance. The Water Framework Directive
(Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament
and of the Council), for example, makes the
involvement of “interested parties” (Directive
2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the
Council, art. 14) a key principle for reaching the
objective of good chemical and ecological quality of
Europe’s surface and ground waters. The White Paper
on Governance (European Commission, 2001b) also
includes participation as one of its five principles for
good governance. Participation has since become an
integral part of any piece of environmental policy in
the EU, as it is reflected by the Directive for public
participation in environmental matters (Directive
2003/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the
Council) and by more recent environmental directives
such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive
(Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament
and of the Council).
This article examines how approaches to nature
conservation in Natura 2000 have shifted throughout
the history of its implementation. In particular, our
analysis shows how a strict science-based approach in
the early years of Natura 2000 has empowered
scientific experts from research institutes, European
institutions and environmental non-governmental
organisations (NGOs). It continues to discuss how this
focus was expanded during recent years to include the
participation of a broader spectrum of societal
stakeholders. However, due to the continued
dominance of science-based approaches, these
stakeholders have been placed in a rather marginal
position. The analysis concludes by identifying an
emerging economic approach in Natura 2000 and by
discussing the possible implications of this approach
for the role of scientific experts and the
empowerment of stakeholders. The article
contributes to improving understanding of how
policies gain their meanings through
(re)interpretation and (re)negotiation (Yanow, 2000;
Turnhout, 2009; Beunen and Duineveld, 2010;
Sumares and Fidélis, 2011). In addition, it examines
the meanings of a policy in relation to the wider
context in which the policy is enacted and mobilised
(Van Assche, 2007). A focus on the dynamics of policy
meanings is important, since these meanings
determine which stakeholders are considered
relevant and which are neglected and excluded
(Bacchi, 2009). By analysing the co-evolution of the
different conservation approaches used in Natura
2000, this article identifies the dynamics in the
meanings of Natura 2000 over time and discusses the
implications of these dynamics for the affected
stakeholders. Such insights are an invaluable input for
the ongoing debate about the social and ecological
effects of nature conservation policies (Spash, 2008)
and the obstacles faced during their implementation
(Hasslett et al., 2010; Beunen et al., 2013).
The article is organised as follows: we first introduce
the theoretical approach of the study and the methods
used (sections 2 and 3); we then present our findings
(section 4); finally, we discuss the results (section 5)
and present our conclusions (section 6).
This study is based on an interpretative and
discursive approach, which asserts that ideas,
concepts, definitions and principles not only describe
reality, but also construct it (Foucault, 1972). The way
in which humans describe and define the external
world is not a straightforward and unidirectional
representation of reality, but it is produced by human
thought within a specific culture, and can change in
time and space (Hajer, 1995). In this context,
dominant representations of reality develop from
stakeholders’ interactions and from the selection of
preferred definitions and interpretations that form
the world as we know it (Bettencourt, 1993; Fischer,
1998; Hajer and Versteeg, 2005).
As the construction of meaning is dependent on
context and policy meanings can change across time
and space, struggles over these meanings occur in
which different stakeholders attempt to include their
interpretations, perspectives and values in the policy.
This not only influences the meaning of a policy, but
also its outcomes and effects (Hajer, 1995; Hajer and
Versteeg, 2005; Duineveld and Van Assche et al.,
2011; Van Assche et al., 2012). Consequently, this
article does not conceive Natura 2000 as a static
policy with meanings that are directly determined by
the legal text underpinning it (Yanow, 1996;
Turnhout, 2009). Instead, it perceives policy
meanings as dynamic and considers the specific
meanings of Natura 2000 to be the outcome of
discursive processes. In these discursive processes,
different nature conservation approaches are
mobilised and connected with the Natura 2000
network and its implementation (Van Assche et al.,
2011). These nature conservation approaches reflect
broader discursive trends that are gaining ground in
international and European nature conservation
It is important to emphasise that the discursive
construction of policy meaning does not just concern
language, but also the practices related to the
implementation of the policy at stake and the roles
that stakeholders play in the implementation process.
According to our theoretical approach, the purpose of
using specific concepts in policies is to foster specific
interpretations of these policies, propose specific
courses of action and influence policy practice
(Bacchi, 2000). As such, policy discourses can be seen
as precursors of policy outcomes (Hajer and Versteeg,
2005) that can have profound implications for the
empowerment and disempowerment of affected
While actors´ empowerment has been theorised in a
number of different academic schools of thought (e.g.
Messinger, 1982; Zimmerman and Rappaport, 1988;
Simon, 1990; Staples, 1990), this article uses a
discursive interpretation. As Foucault (1972, 1980)
has demonstrated, dominant discourses shape reality
through specific patterns that favour some types of
knowledge over others and include specific
stakeholders whilst excluding others. Consequently,
interpretative approaches suggest that patterns of
inclusion and exclusion of stakeholders are embedded
in the discursive structure and discursive dynamics of
a policy (Rose, 2002; Mumby, 2005). This does not
imply that these discursive structures and dynamics
fully determine the dynamics of empowerment and
disempowerment of stakeholders in practice, but
rather that any critical account of governance should
study these elements together to reach a deep
understanding of the processes taking place in the
history of a policy.
In this article, we present an analysis of the specific
meanings of Natura 2000 and their shifts over time in
terms of approaches to nature conservation, and we
connect this analysis to the empowerment and
disempowerment of specific stakeholders in the
Natura 2000 process. To do so, we applied the
following methodological and analytical approach:
1) We carried out a detailed discourse analysis of the
Habitats Directive. This directive is considered a
crucial element of the formal text of Natura 2000 and
of the official interpretation of this policy. To carry out
the discourse analysis, linguistic methods were used
(Georgakopoulou and Goutsos, 1997; Gee, 1999) to
detect recurrent frames, symbols and paradigms of
argumentation that define the nature conservation
approaches articulated in the Habitats Directive. The
identified recurrent linguistic elements symbolising
the different nature conservation approaches were
referred to four basic discursive paradigms reported
in relevant literature on environmental policy
discourses (e.g. Dryzek, 1997; Hajer, 1995 and 2005).
The linguistic analysis was facilitated by the program
Atlas Ti that allowed units of the Habitats Directive,
such as paragraphs, sentences and words, to be coded
under one or more of the four approaches to nature
conservation. These approaches are: 1) “technocracy”,
i.e. the use of science-based criteria in policy-making
and implementation; 2) “participation”, i.e. the
inclusion (to different degrees) of affected
stakeholders in the elaboration and implementation
of a policy; 3) “sustainable development”, i.e. the
balancing of environmental, economic and social
policy concerns and 4) “economy first”, i.e. the
predilection of economic goals in the development
and application of a policy. These approaches are
described in more detail in the next section.
2) The linguistic analysis of the Habitats Directive was
complemented with a contextual discourse analysis
(Wetherell et al., 2001; Hoey, 2001; Hajer, 2005) of
specific policy documents produced by the European
Commission (e.g. European Commission, 2000;
European Commission, 2004a; European Commission,
2006; European Commission, 2007a; European
Commission, 2011) to clarify the significance of
particular terms, concepts and meanings included in
the Directive. This analysis aimed at detecting explicit
and implicit references made in the documents to the
four approaches listed above, and allowed the
detection of their influence on the meanings assigned
to Natura 2000.
3) A number of key historical moments in which the
meanings of Natura 2000 and the approaches to
nature conservation shifted were identified. These
milestones were selected because: (1) they are
approximately evenly spread along the history of the
process; (2) they are well documented; and (3) they
denote important changes in the Natura 2000 process.
The analysis draws on a broad range of literature
dedicated to the time periods and policy events under
study, including monographs, policy documents,
legislations, minutes of meetings, scientific and
professional articles, websites, science and policy
reports, letters and published interviews. These were
analysed to detect the way in which the different
approaches to biodiversity conservation influenced
policy events and interacted in the milestones of the
Natura 2000 process.
4) The analysis of key historical moments in Natura
2000 was complemented with interviews with six
stakeholders, including representatives of the EC,
representatives of environmental NGOs and scientific
researchers, who were or are deeply involved in
Natura 2000 policy events (see Table 1). The
respondents were asked to offer their own
perspectives on and experiences with the policy
events occurring during the milestones identified
above, and the shifts in nature conservation
approaches that took place.
5) We analysed the implications of the changing
meanings of Natura 2000 for the stakeholders
affected by this policy, referring in particular to the
different degrees of involvement, or to the exclusion
of stakeholders from policy processes during the
selected milestones of the Natura 2000 timeline. This
analysis draws on the same materials as identified in
the previous points, but we particularly focused our
analysis on the role of stakeholders in these policy
events, as well as on the ways in which stakeholders’
empowerment and disempowerment was conceived
and articulated in the documents and interviews.
This section presents the results of the analysis,
structured in chronological order according to the
selected milestones of the Natura 2000 history. For
each period we specify the approaches to nature
conservation that can be identified and discuss their
implications for the affected actors and their roles.
This period covers the years between 1988 and 1992,
during which the negotiations for the drafting of the
directive´s text were held- resulting in the publication
of the directive in 1992. This period is characterised
by the dominance of the technocratic approach to
nature conservation, which for example manifests
itself in the importance of scientific knowledge about
European habitats and species (Braat, 2010 pers.
comm.; Jones-Walters, 2010 pers. comm.).
Technocracy refers to the idea that complex problems
can only be tackled through scientific and technical
methods (Fischer, 2000). During the drafting of the
Habitats Directive, and especially during the creation
of the annexes which list the habitats and species of
community importance, the role of science was one of
‘speaking truth to power’ (Price, 1965; Fischer, 1990).
These annexes became incontrovertible criteria that
influenced the subsequent realisation of the network,
from the selection of protected sites to their
management. The assumedly unbiased and rational
approach exemplified by the use of scientific and
technical methods fitted well with European ideals of
fairness, territorial coherence and cooperation among
Member States (Jensen and Richardson, 2004; During,
2010), which conceive biodiversity loss as a matter
that needs to be tackled with a Europe-wide
perspective that transgresses national boundaries
(European Commission, 2002). This correspondence
between European and technocratic paradigms has
legitimised the scientific approach used during this
period of Natura 2000´s history.
The technocratic approach to nature conservation has
been criticised for being overly rigid and inflexible
(Alphandery and Fortier, 2001). Despite criticism, the
application of scientific criteria for the definition of
Natura 2000´s conservation rationale is still believed
by many to be the only possible way to achieve
biodiversity conservation in a timely and efficient
manner (Stuffmann, 2010 pers. comm.; Hanley, 2010
pers. comm.; Braat, 2010 pers. comm.; Jones-Walters,
2010 pers. comm.). According to the interviewees, the
consideration of social and economic criteria is
important for the management of Natura 2000, but at
the same time complicates the realization of the basic
conservation principle of the network (Hanley, 2010
pers. comm.; Braat, 2010 pers. comm.).
The Habitats Directive includes socio-economic
criteria. Specifically, it refers to the general objective
of sustainable development to include human
activities in the conservation of the environment and
it expresses the need to inform and consult the public.
However, these are secondary to the aim of
biodiversity conservation. Socio-economic criteria
predominantly appear in the description of the
procedure to assess plans and projects affecting
Natura 2000 sites and in relation to the public
accessibility of the periodic national reports on the
progresses made in the implementation of Natura
2000 (European Council Directive 92/43/EEC), but
not in the description of the site selection procedure.
The dominance of the technocratic approach to
biodiversity conservation is also mirrored in the roles
played by stakeholders. In this period, only
stakeholders with scientific knowledge about
conservation, habitats and species were able to
influence policy processes at the European level
(Jones-Walters, 2010 pers. comm.; Kremer, 2010 pers.
comm.). These included representatives of European
Commission Directorates, Member States, the
European Parliament and the Council of Europe, as
well as scientific experts from research institutes,
universities and environmental NGOs (Stuffmann,
2010 pers. comm.; Arroyo- Schnell, 2010 pers.
comm.). Within the technocratic framing of nature
conservation, there was little scope for the
involvement of socio-economic stakeholders. The
contribution of these stakeholders was not considered
relevant and socio-economic actors were mostly
excluded from processes of policy formulation
(Johnes Walters, 2010 pers. comm.), with the
exception of the European Economic and Social
Committee (Stuffmann, 2010 pers. comm.). In general,
the recognition of the importance of socio-economic
stakeholders in Natura 2000 has been a struggle
throughout the network´s history (Alphandéry and
Fortier, 2001; Weber and Christophersen, 2002;
McCauley, 2008). Although the following sections do
show a shift towards higher inclusion of socio-
economic stakeholders, it is important to emphasise
that stakeholders holding scientific knowledge and
stakeholders of the EU legislative system maintained a
central role throughout the whole history of Natura
The biogeographic seminars provided the setting for
negotiations about the lists of sites to include in
Natura 2000 (CEEWEB, 2004). They took place with a
high frequency from 1996 until the early 2000s. The
seminars were large-scale international policy events
designed to individually address all European
biogeographic regions, identified on the basis of
ecological, climatic and geographic criteria (CEEWEB,
2004; Hanley, 2010 pers. comm.). Member States
were required to participate in the seminars that
addressed the biogeographic region(s) representing
their national territories and to present lists of sites to
protect on the basis of the presence of habitats and
species. The site selection strictly relied on the lists of
habitats and species included in the annexes of the
Habitats Directive and on technical and quantitative
methods. In the biogeographic seminars, scientific
knowledge was used to assess the extent to which the
Natura 2000 sites proposed by Member States
actually represented European endangered
biodiversity. During the negotiations, scientific
knowledge was also used to justify the approval or
rejection of the proposed sites at the European level
(CEEWEB, 2004; Hanley 2010, pers. comm.), thus it
became the main tool to draw Natura 2000 on the
European map.
Much like the previous period, the empowerment of
stakeholders during this milestone was based on their
expertise regarding conservation biology, habitats
and species. EU governmental stakeholders with
scientific knowledge had a prominent role in the
seminars. For example, the European Commission
played the roles of organiser, moderator and
coordinator. Member States´ representatives had the
chance of defending the lists of Natura 2000 sites they
had proposed and to explain the criteria behind their
decisions (CEEWEB, 2004; Hanley 2010, pers. comm.).
During the seminars, the socio-economic criteria that
were sometimes used in the national proposals were
assessed according to the scientific requirements of
the Habitats Directive and often deemed
inappropriate in light of the overarching aim of
realizing the Natura 2000 network (CEEWEB, 2004;
Hanley 2010, pers. comm.). By adhering to scientific
methods, environmental NGOs also received a
prominent role. They argued for the completeness
and coherence of Natura 2000 and presented their
own science-based proposals of sites to the seminars,
often with considerable success (Weber and
Christophersen, 2002; CEEWEB, 2004; Arroyo-
Schnell, 2010, pers. comm.). Consequently, during the
seminars, the European Commission and
environmental NGOs cooperated to reach common
goals: the effective and efficient implementation of
Natura 2000 and ultimately the halting of biodiversity
loss in the European territory (Weber and
Christophersen, 2002; Arroyo-Schnell, 2010 pers.
Aside from the identified dominance of the
technocratic approach during the biogeographic
seminars, the analysis of these policy events shows a
shift in the nature conservation approach of Natura
2000 towards a participatory approach. Participation
is generally described as the involvement of those
who are affected by a specific problem in policy
deliberations (Fischer, 2000). This involvement can
take different forms, from informing the public about
a specific issue in a top down way, to more thorough
forms of consulting stakeholders about their
perspectives and preferences, or finally, the sharing of
decision power (Fung and Wright, 2003; Cornwall and
Coelho, 2006; Reed, 2008). Although the outcomes of
participation depend on specific contexts as well, a
broad consensus holds that meaningful participation
includes the involvement of stakeholders throughout
the process of problem definition and problem
solving. (Fischer, 2003; Reed, 2008).
Participation during the biogeographic seminars
manifested itself in the inclusion of socio-economic
stakeholders such as farmers, foresters, hunters and
nature tourism operators, who were organised in the
Natura 2000 Users Forum (ELO, 2006). However, this
inclusion was subject to limitations (ELO, 2006;
Hanley, 2010 pers. comm.). Specifically, the socio-
economic stakeholders included in the seminars were
given the opportunity to get acquainted with Natura
2000 and to express their opinion in the negotiations,
yet they could not change the scientific rationale of
the selection process into a more socio-economic
rationale (Hanley, 2010 pers. comm.). In this period,
the participation of land users was expected to
increase their acceptance and understanding of the
scientific rationale of the site selection (Braat, 2010
pers. comm.; Jones-Walter, 2010 pers. comm.). As
such, even though a form of participation took place,
the selection process did not meaningfully include the
perspectives and values of socio-economic actors
(Renn and Schweizer, 2009).
Some elements of participation were already present
in the text of the Habitats Directive, but did not have a
practical application until this period. During this
time, the Natura 2000 site selection involved
decisions with practical implications for land users,
such as the translation of the Natura 2000 policy into
a coherent network of protected sites (Hanley, 2010
pers. comm.). Although the participatory approach
was subsumed under the technocratic approach, the
formal recognition of the Natura 2000 Users Forum in
this period did constitute an important step in the
increasingly important role that socio-economic
stakeholders would play in Natura 2000.
The Bath Conference, entitled “Natura 2000 and
people: a partnership”, was organised by the
European Commission in June 1998, with the main
objective of discussing the delays occurring in the
implementation process, mainly caused by the
aversion of local stakeholders towards the Natura
2000 network (European Commission, 1998). Among
the stakeholders invited to the conference were
national environmental Ministries, representatives of
environmental NGOs, natural scientists, managers of
natural areas and representatives of landowners and
land-users, including farmers, foresters, hunters, local
residents and nature tourism operators (European
Commission, 1998). During this conference, the
participatory approach to nature conservation really
gained ground because stakeholder involvement was
seen as a way to smooth the future realisation of
Natura 2000 (European Commission, 1998). During
this phase, the European Commission started to
recognise the importance of involving socio-economic
stakeholders through a more meaningful form of
participation (Fischer, 2000), i.e. by directly informing
these stakeholders on the implications of Natura 2000
and by discussing with them the practical
consequences of establishing and managing protected
sites (Kremer, 2010 pers. comm.). During the meeting,
various socio-economic stakeholders criticised the
overly scientific rationale of Natura 2000 and
expressed their feelings of exclusion (European
Commission, 1998).
Participation in this period was about smoothening
the implementation of Natura 2000 and minimising
resistance. This notion of participation linked up well
with the ideals of sustainable development.
Sustainable development attempts to combine three
issues, usually treated in isolation - environmental
protection, social justice and economic growth - with
an attention to intergenerational equity and a long-
term approach toward problem solving (Dryzek,
1997). Although the general objective of sustainable
development was already present in the text of the
Habitats Directive, which highlights the important
role of human activities when conserving biodiversity
(European Council Directive 92/43/EEC), the idea of
combining conservation goals with socio-economic
objectives through participation became more
prominent during this period of the Natura 2000
history, mainly in response to the difficulties in the
implementation process and the resistance of local
Sustainable development implies that nature
conservation and socio-economic development are
not considered to be mutually exclusive, but can be
realised simultaneously, or even reinforce each other
(World Commission on Environment and
Development, 1987; Dryzek, 1997). When applied to
Natura 2000, the idea of sustainable development
suggested the possibility of realising natural values
and achieving economic benefits for different types of
land-use at the same time, including for example
extensive farmlands, cultivated grasslands and forests
(European Commission, 1998). As a result of the
combined influence of participation and sustainable
development the role of stakeholders in the Natura
2000 framework changed. Instead of merely
conceiving socio-economic stakeholders as receivers
of the Natura 2000 rationale, as during the
biogeographic seminars, the participation of
stakeholders now created scope for their active
contribution. Specifically, the European Commission
became interested in involving those socio-economic
stakeholders whose activities were seen as
sustainable and as compatible with nature
conservation, such as extensive farming, forestry,
hunting and nature tourism (European Commission,
1998). Other types of stakeholders performing
activities potentially conflicting with biodiversity
conservation, including representatives of the
business, industry and transport sectors, were not
involved in the Bath Conference. This situation
changed in the next period of Natura 2000´s history as
explored in the following section of this paper.
4.4. Concerns for financing Natura 2000
This milestone covers two time periods in which the
management of Natura 2000 and its financing were
the main drivers of policy dialogues and decision-
making processes at the European level, i.e. 2001-
2004 and 2008-2010. In each period participation and
the economy first approach to nature conservation
were strongly present. During the period 2001-2004,
the European Commission launched several activities
to facilitate the discussion of possible options for
financing Natura 2000 (European Commission,
2004a; European Commission, 2007b). As a first step,
the European Commission established an ad hoc
Working Group a consultative body composed of
representatives of Member States, the Council of
European Municipalities and Regions, environmental
NGOs and the European Landowners Organisation
(Hanley, 2010 pers. comm.). Second, the Commission
organised a conference that involved a wide variety of
stakeholders, including environmental NGOs and
platforms, associations and organisations of interest
groups and land users, scientific and policy institutes
and networks, and regional organisations and
associations (European Commission, 2004b).
The events taking place between 2001-2004
facilitated dialogue between the different
stakeholders and the documents that reported on
these events state that the participants’ contribution
was valued and appreciated (European Commission,
2001a; El Teide Declaration, 2002; European
Commission, 2002). The consultation of a broad range
of stakeholders and the use of both written and oral
inquiry methods reveal the increasing influence of
participation. These inquiries can be considered to
incorporate the stakeholders’ ideals and values and to
constitute a more thorough form of societal
involvement (Fischer, 2000; 2003; Renn and
Schweizer, 2009). Between 2001 and 2004, the
participatory approach moved away from concerns
over sustainable development and instead aligned
with an economic approach to nature conservation
that focused on financial issues related to Natura
2000. For example, the European Commission
emphasised that the establishment of Natura 2000
could generate economic benefits and that financing
Natura 2000 is, in fact, economically profitable
(European Commission, 2004a p. 7). This economic
approach to nature conservation is also exemplified
by the outcomes of the consultation process on the
future financing of conservation measures and the
decision of the European Commission to finance
Natura 2000 through existing EU funds dedicated to
agriculture, rural development, cooperation, cohesion
and competitiveness, rather than through a special
fund dedicated to Natura 2000 (European
Commission, 2004a). This decision reflects the
perspective that nature conservation does not need a
special financing mechanism but instead should be
integrated into other economic activities.
Between 2008 and 2010, the European Commission
initiated a new consultation process that was again
dedicated to financing Natura 2000. This time, the
main issue was the coming financing period covering
the years 2013-2020. The process involved i) a survey
assessment targeting Member States and stakeholders
such as national representatives, scientific experts,
representatives of European NGOs and stakeholders’
groups, and ii) a stakeholder conference (Gantioler et
al., 2010a; Gantioler et al., 2010b). The results of these
activities confirmed the outcomes of the previous
consultation on the increasing importance of the
economic approach and showed a preference for an
integrated mechanism for the financing of Natura
2000. During these years, the economy first approach
to nature conservation became stronger through the
emergence of the concept of the “ecosystem services”
provided by Natura 2000 (Gantioler et al., 2010b).
This concept emphasises the economic and monetary
value of biodiversity and its functions while ignoring
other values of biodiversity (Spash, 2008). This is also
demonstrated by the emergence of concepts such as
partnership, investment and profit in the policy
documents supporting the implementation of Natura
2000 in this period (Gantioler et al., 2010a; Gantioler
et al., 2010b; European Commission, 2010a, 2010b,
The economy first approach to biodiversity
conservation created scope for the involvement of
socio-economic stakeholders that were considered as
potential financers of the management of Natura 2000
sites, whilst marginalising other socio-economic
actors who did not have the possibility to invest in the
protection of biodiversity. Between the 2008 and
2010, stakeholders from business and industry
started to collaborate in the management of the
European natural environment (Kremer, 2010 pers.
comm.). A closer look at European Commission´s
publications targeting industry and business
representatives affected by Natura 2000 (European
Commission, 2010a, 2010b, 2011) and at the
composition of the Natura 2000 Working Groups
established in this period (Kremer 2010, pers. comm.)
demonstrates the empowerment of these newly-
involved socio-economic stakeholders. Industry and
business representatives played an increasingly
important role in Natura 2000 implementation and
gradually substituted the socio-economic
stakeholders involved in the previous phase of Natura
2000, such as farmers, foresters, hunters and nature
tourism operators.
With the concept of ecosystem services, this period of
the Natura 2000 history focuses on the application of
economic principles to what were previously
considered non-economic domains (such as ecology
and conservation biology), thereby reflecting broader
trends in approaches to biodiversity conservation
(Spash, 2008). Moreover, the concept of ecosystem
services also created scope for the inclusion of new
types of scientific, ecological and economic experts
who focused their activities on the generation and
valuation of ecosystem services (Turnhout et al.,
2012). Particularly in the application of quantitative
concepts and measures such as cost-benefit analysis,
willingness-to-pay and market value (Spash, 2008),
the economy first approach to nature conservation
that characterizes this period can be seen to have
distinct technocratic characteristics (Turnhout et al.,
The analysis presented here has demonstrated that
the dynamics in the meaning of Natura 2000 are
characterised by shifting approaches to nature
conservation. Initially, the process to draft the
Habitats Directive was dominated by a technocratic
approach which prevailed during the negotiations
that shaped the legal text of the directive, and during
the selection of Natura 2000 areas. Notwithstanding
this science-based start-up of Natura 2000, the
wording of the Habitats Directive included
participatory and sustainable development concerns
as well. The text of the Directive refers to the need of
consulting the affected societal stakeholders for the
management of the protected sites and claims to
make a contribution to the general objective of
sustainable development. The inclusion of concerns
over sustainability and participation in the legal text
underpinning Natura 2000 represents a
foreshadowing of the implementation problems that
the dominance of a technocratic approach to
biodiversity conservation indeed brought about.
After the implementation of Natura 2000 was delayed
and societal resistance emerged, a call for
participation was able to gain ground. Initially, the
need for participation emerged in connection with
concerns over sustainable development, especially in
the form of the acknowledgement of the implications
of Natura 2000 for socio-economic stakeholders and
the need to inform them about these implications.
Later, participation linked up with economic concerns
over the financing of Natura 2000. This is illustrated
by the inclusion of socio-economic considerations
within the Working Groups that sought innovative
solutions to assure the financing of biodiversity
conservation through public-private partnerships.
The dynamics in the meanings of Natura 2000
discussed above went hand-in-hand with the varying
roles of different actors. Under the influence of a
technocratic approach to nature conservation, experts
with knowledge about nature conservation, habitats
and species played an important role in formulating
the legal text underpinning Natura 2000 and in the
site selection. Later, under the influence of a
combined participatory-sustainable development
approach, land users whose activities were seen as
compatible with nature conservation objectives were
included in policy processes. These included farmers,
foresters, nature tourism operators and people living
in and around Natura 2000 sites. Finally, under the
influence of the economy first approach to nature
conservation, new socio-economic stakeholders could
enter the scene as potential investors in Natura 2000
management and the ecosystem services generated by
the network. Under this approach, the emerging role
of new experts (particularly ecological and
environmental economists) who supplement the
traditionally strong role of ecologists and
conservation biologists becomes evident.
These shifts in nature conservation approaches
identified in the Natura 2000 history resonate with
wider shifts in the discursive context of international
and European nature conservation policy. For
example, the technocratic approach in the Habitats
Directive reflects the science-based approach used in
the Bern and Bonn conventions, signed shortly before
the start of the directive´s negotiations. Also, the
emergence of the concept of ecosystem services in the
Natura 2000 context follows the publication of the
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Reports and
mirrors a trend towards the economic valuation of
nature and its services fostered by the Potsdam
Initiative (Spash, 2008). It is also important to
underline that these shifts in nature conservation
approaches have both influenced and are influenced
by dynamics in the wider context of Natura 2000.
These include the problematic implementation of the
network in many Member States (Van Apeldoorn et
al., 2010; Ferranti et al., 2010; Beunen et al., 2013),
which play a crucial role in shaping the meanings of
Natura 2000. The difficulties of socio-economic
stakeholders in understanding the rationale of the
Habitats Directive and their struggle to reach a
satisfactory level of empowerment in Natura 2000
processes (European Commission, 1998) can be
related to the early dominance of the technocratic
approach and to the exclusion of local knowledge and
perspectives from the formulation of the policy
(Paavola, 2004).
This study shows that the meanings of a policy cannot
be understood in isolation or by consulting formal
documents alone. By taking policy concepts such as
“nature conservation”, “participation” and “scientific”
as fluid and contestable, the emergence of different
conceptions of Natura 2000 has been identified. These
conceptions are characterized by different
approaches to nature conservation, different roles of
stakeholders and different ideas about what
constitutes relevant knowledge and expertise.
Specifically, the emergence of a process has been
identified in which the dominance of technocratic
criteria and definitions gave way to a more
participatory approach to nature conservation,
although currently participation stands in danger of
being subsumed under a new set of technocratic
criteria based on environmental economics. It was
detected that the shifting meanings of Natura 2000
that were identified in the analysis reflect the
interplay of different discourses and the practices in
which these are mobilised. This interplay includes,
amongst others, the formal texts of the policy, the
wider global environmental discourses that influence
the conceptualisation of nature and of its
conservation, and the local practices in which Natura
2000 is implemented or resisted and discredited. As
such, the analysis of policy processes, including policy
implementation problems, can benefit from a deeper
understanding of the discursive dynamics and
practices involved in the development and application
of the policy at stake.
The application of a discursive and interpretive
framework of analysis on the history of the policy
meanings of Natura 2000 at the EU level has shown
how these meanings are not only constituted by but
also constitutive of the types of stakeholders that are
considered relevant. The multi-level governance
system often used to describe the EU (Hooghe and
Marks, 2003) is thereby shown to consist not of fixed
groups of stakeholders, but rather of a dynamic mix of
different types of actors which changes alongside with
the approaches that dominate the meanings of a
policy in different periods. As such, our findings
emphasize the relevance of interpretive policy
analysis for understanding issues of inclusion and
exclusion in governance processes (Bevir, 2010).
We conclude our article by reflecting on the most
recent economy first approach we identified. It is
important to recognize that although this approach
did not replace the participatory approaches that
emerged in the preceding periods of Natura 2000’ s
history, it also brings back the technocratic
orientation of the early beginnings of Natura 2000.
Under this currently dominant approach, the
monetary and economic value of biodiversity (as
defined by economic and ecological experts) receives
more weight than non-economic values of
biodiversity. Thus, our findings provide reasons to
criticize the democratic legitimacy of the most recent
phases of Natura 2000. The selective inclusion of
economic values and stakeholders in the Natura 2000
framework risks the marginalization of other
important societal values, such as ecological, spiritual,
cultural or aesthetic values of nature (Turnhout et al.,
2012). It is becoming increasingly clear that the
economy first approach has important limitations and
is unlikely to be able to include the manifold ways in
which people value nature. In order to effectively
address biodiversity loss, we suggest that Natura
2000 needs to find ways to accommodate a wide
diversity of meanings and values and to incorporate a
broad variety of approaches while avoiding the overt
dominance of certain approaches over others.
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... direct sowing); they also establish mandatory closed periods when species in peril cannot be fished or hunted. The Natura laws, like most laws, incorporate and express two types of assumption: epistemic and normative (Castro and Mouro, 2016;Ferranti et al., 2014). The former makes knowledge claims, describing 'how things are' (e.g. ...
... threatened species should be protected from hunting/fishing during closed periods). The formulation of the Natura laws was supported by conservation experts and initially involved little local consultation, preventing the knowledge of fishers and farmers from having a role (Blicharska et al., 2016;Ferranti et al., 2014;Stoll-Kleemann, 2001). The laws' implementation called on a complex network of local actors to readjust their own normative and epistemic viewsand relations to placein line with the (expert-led) assumptions that had travelled down from the EU level (Castro and Mouro, 2016). ...
... This generalised attitude of epistemic asymmetry defining proper versus lesser knowledges is entrenched in the way many international ecological supranational legal orders are formulated, and/or it resurfaces in their national/local implementation, even when other laws attempt to equalise these systems (Castro and Mouro, 2016;Welsh and Wynne, 2013). The processes of Natura 2000's formulation and implementation initially followed this binary logic (Ferranti et al., 2014;Stoll-Kleemann, 2001). Through this logic, local residents are 'imagined' as devoid of both knowledge and meaning/norms, and as ready to embrace new laws once they have been informed about the veracity and normative relevance of those laws' assumptions (Castro and Mouro, 2016;Welsh and Wynne, 2013;Latour, 2004). ...
In this chapter, we propose a material–semiotic epistemological approach to understand the changing senses of place resulting from socio-environmental disasters. This perspective involves investigating the simultaneously symbolic, corporeal and geographical relations that characterise the production of new senses of place in post-disaster contexts. We propose the notion of assemblage as a conceptual tool to understand how senses of place are generated within a complex and dynamic network of influences and reciprocal variations between subjective, social and spatial aspects, articulating at the same time the relationship between individual experiences of place and social and institutional processes. To present, discuss and illustrate this material–semiotic approach, we draw on a part of the results of a study conducted in Chile, addressing multiple case studies of post-disaster situations.
... Furthermore, they reveal the enactment of social roles and how political power can be used to exert control and dominance over populations (Awuh, 2016). Thus, policy discourses are demonstrative of outcomes, which pose profound implications on the lives of the affected stakeholders (Ferranti et al., 2014). ...
... Conservation discourses have changed basic understandings of the environment and the ways in which environmental policies are implemented, resisted or discredited (Dryzek, 2013;Ferranti et al., 2014). The emphasis on making nature live through biopolitical interventions has enabled sovereign power to be exercised indirectly. ...
... Biopolitical theorists emphasise that state interventions have profound implications on the empowerment of the affected populations and further marginalise them (Ferranti et al., 2014;Lemm and Vatter, 2014;Peleo, 2015). The argument was verified by this study as it highlighted that although resettlement is often justified by the provision of welfare benefits for the affected communities, it tends to achieve the opposite. ...
Full-text available
The establishment of protected areas (PAs) is often promoted as an effective way to address environmental degradation and the loss of certain endangered species. PAs are typically predicated on the fortress conservation philosophy that perceives human habitation as a contributory factor to biodiversity loss. Thus, to offset the rate of biodiversity loss and minimise anthropogenic impacts, there has been a resurgence of the creation of strictly protected conservation areas. Nation-states have renewed their PA creation strategies and set aside portions of land to protect unique species and habitats. However, the strict protectionist paradigm that underpins PAs is unjust and unethical, as is more clearly the case when it is associated with the resettlement of human populations from conservation spaces. Strict conservation strategies also have adverse impacts on the livelihoods of the rural poor and may lead to their impoverishment, social disarticulation and political disempowerment. This research examines the resettlement of the indigenous Basarwa peoples from their traditional homelands for the establishment of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in Botswana. The research uses a case study approach to scrutinise the implementation of the resettlement policy and to understand its impacts on the displaced Basarwa communities. To inform this evaluation, the study explores Michel Foucault's biopolitical theory and reveals the extent to which nation-states assert power over human mobility and the populations affected by the creation of PAs. Although the CKGR resettlement was intended for biodiversity conservation and rural development, the government justified the intervention on the basis of certain benefit flows in favour of the Basarwa. Yet, the Basarwa were disenfranchised by their loss of resource territories, the disruption of their traditional activities, social exclusion and political disempowerment. Their life changes have also been transformed through greater exposure to disease, impoverishment and alcoholism.
... The Natura laws, like most laws, incorporate and express two types of assumption: epistemic and normative (Castro and Mouro, 2016;Ferranti et al., 2014). The former makes knowledge claims, describing 'how things are' (e.g. ...
... threatened species should be protected from hunting/fishing during closed periods). The formulation of the Natura laws was supported by conservation experts and initially involved little local consultation, preventing the knowledge of fishers and farmers from having a role (Blicharska et al., 2016;Ferranti et al., 2014;Stoll-Kleemann, 2001). The laws' implementation called on a complex network of local actors to readjust their own normative and epistemic viewsand relations to placein line with the (expert-led) assumptions that had travelled down from the EU level (Castro and Mouro, 2016). ...
... This generalised attitude of epistemic asymmetry defining proper versus lesser knowledges is entrenched in the way many international ecological supranational legal orders are formulated, and/or it resurfaces in their national/local implementation, even when other laws attempt to equalise these systems (Castro and Mouro, 2016;Welsh and Wynne, 2013). The processes of Natura 2000's formulation and implementation initially followed this binary logic (Ferranti et al., 2014;Stoll-Kleemann, 2001). Through this logic, local residents are 'imagined' as devoid of both knowledge and meaning/norms, and as ready to embrace new laws once they have been informed about the veracity and normative relevance of those laws' assumptions (Castro and Mouro, 2016;Welsh and Wynne, 2013;Latour, 2004). ...
People’s relations to place are crucially relevant for their engagement with, or resistance to, measures adopted in view of biodiversity conservation. Today, a considerable share of such measures are legal ones. Many are supranational legal orders: originating in multi-country agreements that are transposed into national legal frameworks, becoming then laws to be implemented at the local level. This chapter focuses on one such supranational legal order, the one governing EU ‘Natura 2000’ protected sites. It explores Natura’s legal-local relational dynamics - where laws affect people-place relations, and those relations affect the reception of the laws - by focusing on how two groups directly impacted by Natura laws: farmers and artisanal fishers. It presents a dynamic perspective in which epistemic labour – i.e. knowledge as process, not just content (Maranta et al., 2003) – takes a central role, and argues that a better understanding of these dynamic requires reconceptualising people-place relations in a way that is more attentive to the epistemic dimension, i.e. to local knowledge and epistemic bonds to place. This perspective also posits that meaning and knowledge, although interdependent, are not the same. The perspective is illustrated with examples of how fishers and farmers living in Natura 2000 sites discuss their places, knowledges and laws. The chapter thus shows how by including the epistemic dimension, the conceptualisation of senses of place can become more relational, plural and dynamic, allowing us to understand people’s engagement with place through three dimensions: engagement through meaning, resulting in belonging and identity bonds; engagement through affection, resulting in attachment; and engagement through knowledge, resulting in epistemic bonds.
... Като цяло, напрежението с изграждането на екологичната мрежа Натура 2000 се концентрира най-вече при намирането на подходящ баланс между природозащитните цели и мерки, и социално-икономическите нужди и желания на отделни групи заинтересовани страни. В литературата съществува съгласие, че липсата на ранно въвличане на заинтересованите страни в процеса по определяне и обявяване на защитените зони е съществена слабост от началните години на екологичната мрежа Натура 2000 (Crofts, 2014;Ferranti et al., 2014). Прозрачното и ефективно включване на заинтересованите страни, собствениците и ползвателите на земите, както и на местните власти, се сочат като подход, който подобрява приемането на зоните, намалява конфликтите и допринася за постигането на консенсус относно бъдещите социално-икономическите ползвания в зоните по Натура 2000Натура (Diez et al., 2015Rauschmayer et al., 2009;Weber and Christophersen, 2012). ...
... Прозрачното и ефективно включване на заинтересованите страни, собствениците и ползвателите на земите, както и на местните власти, се сочат като подход, който подобрява приемането на зоните, намалява конфликтите и допринася за постигането на консенсус относно бъдещите социално-икономическите ползвания в зоните по Натура 2000Натура (Diez et al., 2015Rauschmayer et al., 2009;Weber and Christophersen, 2012). Поради това, в периода след 2000 г. участието на обществеността се насърчава силно, както по отношение на обявяването на зоните, така и за управлението им (Ferranti et al., 2014;Beunen and de Vries, 2011;Kati et al., 2015). Голяма част от държавите-членки изработват нови подходи за въвличане на заинтересованите страни, управлението или финансирането на зоните по Натура 2000, които се различават от тези за национално защитените територии (Crofts, 2014;Pellegrino et al., 2016;Bouwma et al., 2016). ...
... Тъй като 40% от територията на защитените зони е заета от земеделски земи, а 50% от горски територии, икономическите дейности в тях са почти неизбежни. Поради тази причина, много изследователи настояват, че финансирането на управленските дейности и мерки в зоните по Натура 2000 е от ключово значение за постигането на природозащитните цели (Ferranti et al., 2014, Pellegrino et al., 2016. Crofts (2014) смята, че липсата на целеви европейски фонд за Натура 2000, въпреки текста на Директивата за природните местообитания, регламентиращ съфинансиране на природозащитните мерки (член 8), е сериозно предизвикателство пред управлението на мрежата. ...
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Основната цел на настоящото изследване е подобряване на ефективното управление на земеделските земи в защитените зони по Натура 2000, така че да се създават ползи както за земеделските производители, получаващи подпомагане, така и за видовете и местообитанията, обект на опазване. Специфичните цели са насочени към (1) повишаване на разбирането и познанието за състоянието и тенденциите за развитие в ползването на земеделските земи в зоните по Натура 2000; (2) определяне на факторите, които оказват влияние върху ползването и/или промените в начините на трайно ползване на земеделските земи в зоните по Натура 2000; и (3) разработване на обосновани препоръки относно подпомагането на земеделските земи в зоните по Натура 2000.
... This includes land ownership and regulations related to, for example, species protection, water management, or accountability for policy objectives. It has been documented how in Natura 2000, the EU's network of protected areas, strict conservation objectives often limit the potential for citizens to become involved in management of these areas through forms of self-organization (Apostolopoulou et al. 2014, Ferranti et al. 2014). ...
... This requires governance that is sensitive to the diversity and dynamics of active citizenship, but also demands a level of central steering . In many European countries, national and international conservation directives imply strict regulations related to protected areas (Ferranti et al. 2014), but outside of those areas there is often more regulatory space for citizens to pursue their own objectives. Literature on "nested" approaches to nature conservation highlights how local priorities can be aligned with or additive to national and international conservation duties (Kabat et al. 2012). ...
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In this synthesis article, I discuss the meaning of active citizenship for European nature conservation based on an integrative study of existing literature. Four main knowledge gaps are addressed: (1) a lack of overview on the scope and characteristics of active citizenship across Europe; (2) a lack of systematic evidence on its impacts; (3) a lack of congruence in democratic debates related to active citizenship; and (4) the governance implications of active citizenship in context of these knowledge gaps. Empirical research shows that active citizenship is driven by a wide range of motivations and manifests in various forms. Although most active citizenship is small in scale, when added together all these groups of citizens have become a societal force to be reckoned with. Locally, active citizenship often provides important benefits to people and nature and also enriches the democratic system. However, active citizenship does not always align with policy frameworks and ecological networks and also leads to tensions between representative and direct forms of democracy. For these reasons, active citizenship should be considered as additive to other forms of governance in European nature conservation. In this, a polycentric and collaborative approach to green space governance can help authorities in achieving their own policy objectives while stimulating active citizenship.
... locales, hasta modalidades donde la participación se entiende meramente como la toma en consideración de los intereses económicos de los locales, que buscan ser satisfechos con la promoción de nuevas formas de desarrollo económico (ecoturismo y turismo de naturaleza)(Ferranti et al., 2014). Por último, a lo largo de este tiempo, se constata un crecimiento constante de la inversión pública en conservación. ...
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Este número especial responde a la necesidad de preguntarse cómo se construyó la red de Áreas Protegidas (AP)[1] en los distintos territorios de España, tras la arquitectura del Estado de autonomías aprobado por la Constitución de 1978. Diversos factores condicionaron el desarrollo de las políticas de conservación en cada una de las comunidades autónomas (CC.AA.). En este monográfico nos acercamos a tres de ellas –Andalucía, Catalunya y Comunitat Valenciana–, dibujando sus trayectorias y buscando una comparación con el propósito de alcanzar una mayor comprensión del presente.
... A basic understanding of all these areas is important to increase the likelihood that interventions will be successful in building tolerance (Comino et al., 2016). In addition, levels of tolerance are expected to be variable, both between and within communities, and it is important to understand such variation in order to adequately target conservation interventions (Ferranti et al., 2014). For example, communities, households and household members less reliant on income derived from livestock (Suryawanshi et al., 2014), or ones more exposed to conservations interventions are expected to display higher levels of tolerance towards large carnivores (Gebresenbet et al., 2017;Romañach et al., 2007;Zabel & Holm-Müller, 2010). ...
Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) have long co-existed with livestock herding people across Asia’s high mountains. Multiple use landscapes however imply potential competition for shared resources, livestock predation, and the risk of retaliatory killing of predators. Community-based conservation is a central pillar for supporting people’s livelihoods and safeguarding predators and their habitat. Based on the theory of planned behavior, we examined the factors that shape herders’ tolerance of snow leopards. Our questionnaire-based study was conducted in the Sanjiangyuan Region, China, encompassing four communities with varying livelihoods, experiences with livestock depredation and levels of exposure to community conservation interventions. Our results showed that respondents generally held positive views towards snow leopards, although women tended to have relatively more negative views towards snow leopards compared with men. Current household income was largely dependent on caterpillar fungus rather than livestock. Social norms around religion and the role of community leaders in our study area seemed to be the main determinants of the generally benign association of people with wildlife, overshadowing potential influences of community-based conservation interventions. Our work suggests that conservations programs will be aided through collaborations with communities and religious institutions, and that conservationists must proactively engage with women as significant actors in conservation.
... Indicative examples include the Birds and Habitat directives that form the basis of the NATURA 2000 network. Although these high-level directives have had a significant impact in improving environmental quality across the EU and beyond (for example, in the wider European Economic Area and countries aiming to join the EU in the future), there are still significant issues that need to be addressed (e.g., [9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][112][113][114]). ...
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Protected Areas are the most widely applied policy tool for biodiversity conservation. In Europe, protected areas are expected to significantly increase as the new EU Biodiversity strategy sets an ambitious target of 30% of land and 30% of water to be protected by 2030. Despite the popularity of this environmental policy, understanding variations in the level of public support for protected areas remains underexplored. This is an important area of research, considering that, in order for protected areas to be effective, they need to be supported by most users, including local communities and visitors. In this paper, we reviewed theoretical and empirical evidence explaining the level of support for protected areas and proposed a new approach when designing and designating protected areas in Europe. This approach models the process of the introduction of a new protected area as a policy intervention within a socio-ecological system. Specifically, it models how protected area social outcomes or impacts are conditioned and contextualised by numerous intervening factors relating to the social context and governance and management system to influence local actors’ attitude and active support for the protected area. This new approach aims to assist policy makers, conservation practitioners and scientists to plan actions that assist in increasing the level of public support for protected areas in the context of the post 2020 Biodiversity Strategy of the European Union.
... However, even in this discourse, responsibilities for nature conservation have broadened from primarily a governmental task towards a shared responsibility between government and society. This can be compared to other European countries, where considerable criticism on a strict top-down implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directive gave a considerable impetus or need for a change and contributed to a shift towards a more inclusive approaches (Ferranti et al., 2014;Suškevičs et al., 2013). ...
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The recently published EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 emphasizes nature’s benefits to humans. In line with wider shifts in nature conservation discourses in many European countries, moving from nature’s intrinsic value towards its instrumental values, the EU strategy strongly focuses on a ‘Natural capital’ view. In this context of a European wide search for business opportunities and societal engagement in nature conservation, this article investigates efforts from Dutch governments to strengthen the link between nature conservation and society. Over the past 10 years, policy responsibilities for nature conservation in the Netherlands have been decentralized from the national level to the twelve provinces, who have employed a variety of approaches to stimulate societal engagement in nature conservation. Through discourse analysis, we show how the previously hegemonic “Ecology First” discourse – a hierarchical mode of governance with a strong focus on intrinsic values – has transgressed towards a more flexible and adaptive "Partnership for Nature" discourse, with a strong focus on aligning with local stakeholders through network governance. In addition, we describe the emergence of three new discourses: a “Green Economy” discourse, capitalizing on ecosystem services to unleash new financial resources; a “Relational Nature” discourse with a strong focus on people’s connections to nature; and a “Democratic Nature” discourse focusing on nature’s intrinsic and relational values combined with a mosaic governance approach. While the EU Biodiversity Strategy focus on natural capital aligns very well with the Dutch Green Economy discourse, the EU strategy gives little attention to the relational and democratic dimensions of societal engagement. Based on our analysis, we show that changing modes of governance relate to changes in values of nature. Government’s need for new conservation partners requires opening up for new values of nature. In addition, changing values of nature require a change in governance structures to allow new actors to participate and contribute. The increasing focus on natural capital and green economy at the European level may be a first step in such diversification. However, we argue that Europe needs to develop additional strategies beyond instrumental values, to allow for further diversification of values and include all stakeholders from society.
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This study was aimed to identify intermediary organizations active in nature conservation initiatives by adopting a multi-level (ML) and network governance (NG) framework and using social network analysis (SNA). We identified 256 coordinating beneficiaries and 1090 associated beneficiaries connected through 8310 project relations and financed through the EU-funded LIFE Programme from 2014 to 2020. Our results evidence a central component of the network where organizations from Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom play a central role. In contrast, peripheral components return a framework of partnerships mainly constituted by actors of the same country (68%). Moreover, the characterization by type of actor confirms the widespread implementation of a multi-level governance approach in LIFE-Nature (NAT) projects, evidencing the significant presence of non-governmental organizations and foundations, mainly at a national level, in nature conservation initiatives. Our findings reveal that the intermediary capacity of key actors should be further reinforced, particularly toward the promotion of transnational cooperation and cross-sector alliances, by encouraging the involvement of stakeholders operating at the ground level (i.e., provincial and municipal levels).
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In the late 1980s, I studied developments in environmental politics, a field that I had, until then, not examined in any detail. Given my background studying social movements and political institutions, I was intrigued by the ‘career’ of the environmental movement. In twenty years, it had transformed from a counter-cultural movement, practising the symbolic politics of street demonstrations, lifestyle choices, and alternative consumption (expressed in an elaborate and very visible urban circuit encompassing bookshops, wholemeal food stores, dress codes, communal households, and so on) to a more mainstream political force, seeking representation and influence through ‘green’ parties and professional lobbying (see Hajer, 1995). Upon reflection, it seemed obvious that much more was going on in environmental politics than fighting ‘environmental degradation’. The differences in style, both in terms of ways of life and of conducting politics, signalled that environmental politics was in fact a field of profound ‘cultural politics’. Environmental politics appeared to be a stage at which society reflected on its record: values were at risk, moral commitments were contested and the very form of conducting politics was questioned (Hajer, 1996).
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In dit onderzoek wordt erfgoed gezien als objecten waar een zekere betekenis aan wordt toegekend. Die betekenissen staan hier centraal en niet de objecten zelf. Sommige objecten krijgen die Europese relevantie, omdat ze vaak als Europees erfgoed worden bestempeld, voor andere objecten is dat bijvoorbeeld minder duidelijk en hebben de betekenis van nationaal of regionaal erfgoed. Dit proces van betekenisgeving staat centraal in dit proefschrift. Een drietal INTERREG projecten is geselecteerd als case studies (uit Litouwen, Griekenland en Nederland)
Making European Space explores how future visions of Europe's physical space are being decisively shaped by transnational politics and power struggles, which are being played out in new multi-level arenas of governance across the European Union. At stake are big ideas about mobility and friction, about relations between core and peripheral regions, and about the future Europe's cities and countryside. The book builds a critical narrative of the emergence of a new discourse of Europe as 'monotopia', revealing a very real project to shape European space in line with visions of high speed, frictionless mobility, the transgression of borders, and the creation of city networks. The narrative explores in depth how the particular ideas of mobility and space which underpin this discourse are being constructed in policy making, and reflects on the legitimacy of these policy processes. In particular, it shows how spatial ideas are becoming embedded in the everyday practices of the social and political organisation of space, in ways that make a frictionless Europe seem natural, and part of a common European territorial identity.
In recent years a set of new postempiricist approaches to public policy, drawing on discursive analysis and participatory deliberative practices, have come to challenge the dominant technocratic, empiricist models in policy analysis. In this book, Frank Fischer brings together this work for the first time and critically examines its implications for the field of public policy studies. He describes the theoretical, methodological and political dimensions of this emerging approach to policy research. The book includes a discussion of the social construction of policy problems, the role of interpretation and narrative analysis in policy inquiry, the dialectics of policy argumentation, and the uses of participatory policy analysis. After an introductory chapter, ten further chapters are arranged in four parts: Part I, Public Policy and the Discursive Construction of Reality (two chapters), introduces the re-emergence of interest in ideas and discourse. It then turns to the postempiricist or constructionist view of social reality, presenting public policy as a discursive construct that turns on multiple interpretations. Part II, Public Policy as Discursive Politics (two chapters), examines more specifically the nature of discursive politics and discourse theory and illustrates through a particular disciplinary debate the theoretical, methodological, and political implications of such a conceptual reframing of policy inquiry. Part III, Discursive Policy Inquiry: Resituating Empirical Analysis (four chapters), offers a postempiricist methodology for policy inquiry based on the logic of practical discourse, and explores specific methodological perspectives pertinent to such an orientation, in particular the role of interpretation in policy analysis, narrative policy analysis, and the dialectics of policy argumentation. Part IV, Deliberative Governance (two chapters), discusses the participatory implications of such a method and the role of the policy analyst as facilitator of citizen deliberation .