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This text aims to present the methodology of study of land-use conflicts performed in recent years by a multidisciplinary team, and to reveal the methods of survey and data collection, as well as the structure of the resulting database. We first define the scope of our study by providing a definition of these conflicts, of their characteristics and motives, of the ways they manifest themselves and of the actors involved (I). We then present the methodology we have used to identify conflicts; it is based on a spatial analysis and the combined use of different data collection methods including surveys conducted by experts, analyses of the regional daily press and of data from the administrative litigation courts (II). Finally we present the resulting Conflicts © data base, with its tables and nomenclatures, in which the data collected in different fields are reconciled and analyzed (III), before providing a few examples of how this method can be used to analyze case studies in developed and developing countries (IV). D74; C83; K41.
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M E T H O D O L O G Y Open Access
Identifying and measuring land-use and proximity
conflicts: methods and identification
André Torre
, Romain Melot
, Habibullah Magsi
, Luc Bossuet
, Anne Cadoret
, Armelle Caron
, Ségolène Darly
Philippe Jeanneaux
, Thierry Kirat
, Haï Vu Pham
and Orestes Kolokouris
This text aims to present the methodology of study of land-use conflicts performed in recent years by a multidisciplinary
team, and to reveal the methods of survey and data collection, as well as the structure of the resulting database. We first
define the scope of our study by providing a definition of these conflicts, of their characteristics and motives, of the ways
they manifest themselves and of the actors involved (I). We then present the methodology we have used to identify
conflicts; it is based on a spatial analysis and the combined use of different data collection methods including surveys
conducted by experts, analyses of the regional daily press and of data from the administrative litigation courts (II). Finally
we present the resulting Conflicts © data base, with its tables and nomenclatures, in which the data collected in different
fields are reconciled and analyzed (III), before providing a few examples of how this method can be used to analyze case
studies in developed and developing countries (IV).
Jel codes: D74; C83; K41
Keywords: Conflicts; Methodology; Data base; Daily press; Litigation; Surveys
Though conflict analysis is inscribed in a long tradition of
social sciences, at the first rank of which lies sociology
(Lewin, 1948; Touraine, 1978; Stephenson, 1981; Simmel,
2008; Freund, 1983; Coser, 1982; Wieviorka, 2005), re-
searchers and practioners have preferred to focus their
attentiononthequestionsofconflict resolution rather than
on the analysis of conflicts and of their characteristics
(Castro and Nielsen 2001; Jeong 1999; Fisher, 1997; Neslund,
1990; Owen et al., 2000), except in cases of armed conflict
(Boulding, 1962; Diehl, 1991; Hensel, 2001; Starr, 2005). Yet,
the growing concerns about the environment, the issues of
sustainable development, urban sprawl processes and about
questions about people's living environment have recently
led to renewed interest for issues related to land use conflict,
also called land use and neighbourhood conflicts or environ-
mental conflicts (See, among many others: Humphreys,
2005; Deininger and Castagnini, 2006; Magsi and Torre
2014; Mann and Jeanneaux, 2009; Campbell, et al., 2000;
Darly and Torre 2013a,b; Cadoret 2009; Melé et al. 2004;
Dziedzicki 2001; Charlier 1999; Cadene, 1990).
Interest in these issues has grown in the fields of eco-
nomics, geography, land planning as well as in sociology
and social-psychology and has pointed to the necessity
of analyzing conflicts, their occurrences, their impacts
and main characteristics, more thoroughly. Such an ap-
proach obviously necessitates access to enough reliable
data on conflicts per se, so as to be able to evaluate their
number and volume, their role and impact, how they
manifest themselves, what their causes or origins are
and how they are solved.
Data about conflictuality is scarce and often incomplete
for two main reasons. The first lies in the fact that little
interest was shown in the subject until the years 2000. The
second reason is related to the complexity of conflicts,
which rules out the possibility of using only one representa-
tive variable. Indeed, land use conflicts find expression in
various forms (tribunals, media coverage, violence)which
prevent one from making a simple representation and
which explain why various disciplines are necessary to de-
fine them. A conflict that gives rise to analysis is a construct
founded on information collected from different sources.
In light of this problem, a researcher wishing to study
conflictuality must collect his/her own data (either they
are focusing on developed or developing countries), and
* Correspondence:
UMR SAD-APT, INRA AgroParisTech, Paris Saclay University, Paris, France
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article
a SpringerOpen Journal
© 2014 Torre et al.; licensee Springer. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction
in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85
then analyze them (for more on the subject read Rucht
and Neidhardt (1999) which describes the different
stages that are necessary to this type of work). This is
what we have done by developing a program of study on
conflicts involving several teams of French researchers
from various research institutes and universities. This
program has successively focused on various issues per-
taining of conflicts in natural, rural and peri-urban areas
in developed and developing countries (France, Greece,
Canada and Pakistan). Their contributions are based on
analytical method adopted according to the nature and
availability of data from different economies, and identi-
fication of land use conflicts, involvement of actors with
different relations and network links.
This text aims to present the methodology of study of
land-use conflicts performed in recent years by a multidis-
ciplinary team, and to reveal the methods of survey and
data collection, as well as the structure of the resulting
database. The originality of this approach lies in its refus-
one single innovative formula. The method we use to
identify the conflicts, and which we present here, is com-
plex and multi-dimensional. It involves a specific method-
ology that rests on the combination and triangulation of
different sources and modes of data collection, and on
precise protocols of data processing and of identification
of conflict patterns, applied in each stage of the program.
Following these protocols ensures that we achieve the
most realistic representation possible of conflict within a
given space or area. Our method borrows from other in-
vestigation procedures previously developed (See for ex-
ample, Charlier (1999) based on press articles) and which
we have transposed, improved and specified, but it also
rests on innovative procedures (the use of litigation data
and their treatment by means of software). It is based on
social science analysis techniques (statistical inquiries, in-
terviews, surveys, accounts, group follow ups). It also
consists in exploiting databases (such as the Lamyline
database) or data provided by administrations (such as tri-
bunals' judgments).
In some ways, our approach is not unlike that of other
current projects of research on land use conflicts, in
particular urban ones (see the research conducted in
Canada (Trudelle, 2003; Joerin et al., 2005), in Netherlands
(Leeuwen, 2010), or in Brazil (Observatorio Permanente
dos Conflitos Urbanos na Cidade de Rio de Janeiro
2010). It is situated within a tradition that includes
remarkable works conducted by teams of researchers
located in various countries. Among these studies,
three are, in our view, particularly significant, and have
paved the way for our work by indicating the main
difficulties involved in this type of research and by
suggesting many solutions and possible paths for further
research (Janelle, 1977; Ley and Mercer, 1980; Rucht and
Neidhardt, 1999). Although we have not always drawn the
same conclusions or adopted all the suggestions made by
those authors, their works have been essential sources of
inspiration. We owe a great deal to these studies in that
they have helped us reflect on our multidimensional
method of conflict analysis and avoid many pitfalls.
Two reasons explain why we have wished to present our
method of analysis which we have tested and improved
over the last 7 years to a wide audience of researchers
and practitioners:
We have wanted to show that it is possible to
identify conflictual events and to deduce from them
a general picture of conflictuality as well as a
description of the characteristics of the conflicts that
occur in a given area;
We have also wanted to share our experience and
encourage researchers to use our method, by
responding to its associated criteria of intellectual
The structure of this article is as follows: we shall first
present the scope of our investigations, placing particular
emphasis on the questions of definition, origins and ex-
pression of conflicts. The second section of the paper is
devoted to the presentation of our data collection method.
We begin by describing the procedure of identification and
diagnosis of the conflicts that occur in the area we have se-
lected, and then discuss the identification method per se
and more specifically its three foundation stones: the ana-
lysis of the daily regional press, of administrative litigations
and the exploitation of surveys conducted by experts. In
thethirdsectionwefirstpresenttheConflict © database
compiled from the information gathered. It addresses the
questions of the construction and classification of the ob-
jects of conflicts, of the actors' profiles, of their utilization
of land and of their arguments, successively. We end the
article with a brief presentation of the results obtained from
the exploitation of the database on conflictuality on selected
case studies from developed to developing countries.
Definition of the scope of investigations
We are interested in land use conflicts and conflicts over
resources. In order to identify them, it is, first, necessary
to propose an operational definition that will enable us
to both recognize and capture conflictual elements and
situations, and to classify them in such a way as to be
able to trace the conflictual profiles of a given area.
Our research studies are conducted in rural and peri-
urban territories. They pertain to conflicts and tensions re-
lated to public consumption commodities (air, landscape
amenities and nature's functions), resources (water or en-
ergy), waste and pollution, as well as to the areas of location
of individuals or activities and their neighboring areas.
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 2 of 26
We call conflict an opposition marked by an engagement
or a commitment between two or several parties (the ac-
tors of the conflict), in relation to local material objects.
These oppositions reveal local characteristics related to
spatial dimensions (e.g. topologic dimensions, neighbor-
hood and transport infrastructures) as well as to social and
economic characteristics linked to the areas in which they
arise. Land use conflicts are the results of the dissatisfac-
tion of one part of the population with actions undertaken
or planned by their neighbors, by private institutions or by
the public authorities. They are the pointers of the innova-
tions taking place in the different territories and of the
resistance they generate, and also the ferment of new
innovation phases. We do not consider it necessary to elim-
inate conflicts nor even to try and solve them at all costs,
for they are the expression of the voiced opposition of par-
ties that consider themselves injured. Conflictual events are
phases of coordination between actors and a way of reintro-
ducing new actors in the mechanisms of decision making
and of creation of territorial development projects. Con-
flicts can often be considered as part of a trial and error
method regarding public decision: if one decision is consid-
ered opposite to the needs and wills of local populations, it
could lead to tension, and afterwards to conflicts.
A local materiality
The conflicts we are interested in are distinguishable by
their localized nature (i.e. territorial superposition of
contradictory interests, rivalries between contiguous or
neighboring areas), by the materiality of the objects that
cause them or are concerned by them, as well as by the
fact that they emerge in relation to differing land uses.
Oppositions between individuals or groups pertain to con-
crete objects, to technical acts that are taking or will take
place and imply concrete actions. These conflicts can have
a strictly local component, or be related to questions that
are more universal in scope. Whatever the initial situation,
they can expand socially and spatially if they crystallize is-
sues of a societal nature.
Land use conflicts have a territorial dimension. They rest
on a physical basis: they take place between actors (some-
times, but not always neighbors) affected by a problem that
has emerged and they develop around the use of localized
support material or immaterial goods. They are inscribed in
a geographic institutional framework, determined by both
the actions of local and supra local authorities and by the
rules they introduce. Indeed, territoriality and unequal ex-
posure are central characteristics of land use conflicts. En-
vironmental disputes are, first of all, territorial in nature to
the extent that they involve the very unequal exposure of
different territorial regions to environmental pollution, land
speculation and development projects. Regions where the
highest conflicts concentration is observed are also the
regions where the densest concentration of risk-bearing fa-
cilities or building permits can be found.
Conflictual events are identifiable in relation to specific
goods or pieces of land, i.e. the space within which the uses
are in opposition. The cases studied in our research pertain
to questions related to land, to territorial development as
well as to water and its management, to the superposition
of uses (production, tourism, leisure), to the development
of economic industrial and port operation activities, to
landscape and their evolution through urbanization and the
creation of new equipment such as wind turbines, waste
water treatment plants, waste management facilities, etc.
More specifically, researches implemented in a country like
France have been focused on conflicts dealing with the
issue of urban sprawl and its consequences on specula-
tion in farm land and forests (in particular risk of arson
in peri-urban forests). In a Mediterranean country like
Greece, forest fires can be mobilized as a strategy of land
appropriation. Arsons can be used in speculative strategies
to change land use destination, but can also indirectly pro-
voke a local collective actions in favor of a stricter policy
for the preservation of woodlands. Local inquiries paid
also attention to the topic of farmland consumption and
preservation of natural spaces.
The conflicts we have examined and their evolution per-
tain to the manifestations of oppositions to land modifying
projects as well as to the effective emergence of con-
straints, pollutions and nuisances related to the changes
that have occurred in the original space. Thus, the emer-
gence of conflict is not necessarily related to the occur-
rence of a material event, but can also correspond to an
expectation by certain categories of actors opposed to the
project that that event will occur.
The participants to conflicts: different actors and
combination of actors
The individuals or organizations involved in land use
conflicts can be divided into two large categories:
Users of land and resources for productive purposes
(whether or not they are the owners of the land in
question and of their work tool): artisans and
industrial entrepreneurs, farmers, herders and forest
entrepreneurs, providers of recreational services
involving the use of land;
Users of land and resources for non-productive pur-
poses (present on the land permanently - residents,
hunters, sportspeople, hikers or only present occa-
sionally tourists, secondary residents).
These categories of users find themselves involved in the
tensions and conflicts, either individually or as parts of net-
works or groups of actors. Conflicts can involve users op-
posing one another (whether or not they pursue identical
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 3 of 26
production goals), reveal oppositions between different cat-
egories of users. However, we consider that many actors
can combine productive and non-productive functions,
thus going beyond the simplistic dichotomy between the
ones and the others. Indeed, they reveal contemporary so-
cial complexity and the various roles one person can play.
It is for this reason that we have chosen to base our
work methodology on actors rather than on the uses they
make of the areas considered. We also use the term "actor"
so as to avoid referring to large categories of land users
(residents, farmers, environmentalists, industries....) which
are abstract and often account for only part of the reality
and complexity of the actors themselves and of their rela-
tionships with others. Following the example of Janelle
(1977) and of Ley and Mercer (1980) we also use the term
"conflict participant" - which is the base economic and so-
cial unit of conflictuality - or conflict stakeholders.
The motives of conflict
Conflicts arise from changes or projects of change, per-
ceived by some actors as contrary to their interests or
their wishes. The material expression of changes at the
origin of conflicts pertains to several categories:
Construction, deterioration or destruction of
property, a landscape or infrastructure;
Creation of a new production facility or expansion
of an activity;
Emission of external negative effects (diffusion
pollution, odors, water drainage);
Development of a property or piece of land;
Access issues (restriction/exclusion,
or opening/easement).
Nevertheless, the properties or facilities do not necessar-
ily have to actually exist for a conflict to emerge. Conflicts
can result from projects of construction, of implementa-
tion or extension of an activity, of development or of ac-
cess modification, or from the emission of negative effects.
In this case, conflicts are considered "anticipative" or "pre-
ventive". Indeed, disputes may arise between local resi-
dents or associations (acting individually or together), on
the one hand, and the administration and applicants for
permits to develop building projects or to operate activ-
ities, on the other. These disputes concern application for
permits, above all, and come into play a priori (preventive
conflicts), i.e., before the environmental risk-bearing activ-
ity or development project is actually launched. In this
case, the dispute arises at the outset of the process. How-
ever, disputes may also arise when industrial operators or
developers challenge administrative decisions or when
local residents protest against the consequences of pollu-
tions, nuisances and environmental impacts and the dis-
pute occurs then a posteriori (curative conflicts).
From tensions to conflicts
The distinction between tensions and conflicts is tricky to
analyze. Indeed the emergence of a conflict follows an ex-
plicit engagement of the actors; an engagement which
takes the form of acting out episode: threats, assault, ac-
tions at law, technical acts, and signs (forbidding access....).
We shall call conflict any tension that turns into a de-
clared confrontation, via the engagement of one or several
We then consider that tension between various parties
designates an opposition without the engagement of the
protagonists, whereas a conflict emerges with the engage-
ment of one of the parties. This engagement is defined by
the implementation of a credible threat, which may take
different forms:
Legal actions
Bringing the matter to the attention of the public
authorities or of the civil service representatives
Mediatisation (bringing the matter to the attention
of the media, press, radio, television)
Assault or verbal confrontation
Putting up signs (signs forbidding access,
fences and gates).
More or less apparent, individual or collective
manifestations of conflictuality
Sporadic or recurrent, the tensions and conflicts related
to the different land uses can manifest themselves in
various ways:
At inter-individual level: bad relations between
neighbors, assault, recourse to third parties, retor-
tion, reprisal;
At a more general level: carried or handled by
individuals (elected officials for example);
Finally, at collective level, carried or handled by
groups, particularly associations representing actors
using land for non-productive purposes (these
groups distinguish themselves from enterprises or
large scale farmers or forest entrepreneurs in that
they are characterized by a non-hierarchical internal
organization and non-productive purposes), admin-
istrations, local or territorial authorities.
The strategies of the groups and individuals are closely
related to the conflictual events. Highlighting them helps
to explain the objectives and positioning of the actors at
the onset of the conflict and in the ways to manage it.
The way tension or a conflict is managed often depends
on the goal pursued.
Tensions and conflicts have histories. Some conflicts
pass away quickly, whereas others can last for long pe-
riods, with phases of more or less intense confrontation
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 4 of 26
and stages of more or less latent antagonism. A phase of
tension can last for a long time without turning into con-
flict, if the actors do not engage. During the period of ten-
sion preventive actions can be undertaken in order to
prevent a conflict from happening. Nevertheless, it is im-
portant to note that it is perfectly possible for a conflict to
arise without their having been prior tensions.
Modes of prevention and management of conflicts
Although we make no hypothesis about the necessity to
solve conflicts we regularly meet actors who seek to pro-
mote or implement modes of conflict resolution. The
modes of conflict prevention and management can:
consist of preventive actions aimed at promoting
appeasement and at avoiding the occurrence of a
conflict. These actions can be taken so as to
promote inter-individual negotiation; they can con-
sist in involving a third party representing land
users, or in encouraging the actors to adopt a non-
judicial route such as institutionalized mediation for
merely consist of an arrangement between the
actors involved;
rest on a regulatory or legal techniques.
The solutions considered
Without going into an in depth description, we identify
below the main types of solutions implemented:
Technical acts;
Compensations (financial, natural or technical);
Land use planning;
Eliminating the activity from the area in question or
moving it somewhere else;
Mediation by an insurance company.
Methods of conflict identification
The identification and analysis of conflicts rest essentially,
in our method, on following sources of data collection:
The daily regional press (DRP);
Surveys conducted by experts;
Data from administrative litigation courts;
Data through other sources are often added in
studies on developing countries, where some of the
previous relevant sources are missing;
Internet (personal blogs and web pages)
Geographic Information System (GIS).
Every source of data collection has its own limits. Only a
small part of the conflicts (e.g. regarding the engagement
paradigm previously identified) is treated by tribunals and
a lot of opposition does not go on Courts. As far as the
political traditions and the laws are different in each coun-
try, tribunals can play different and more or less important
roles. The judgment can also be subjected to various inter-
pretation or contestation, even regarding the administrative
component. In the same spirit, there are severe limitations
to the use of DRP. First, it is obvious that media behave dif-
ferently with regards to the countries but also the regions
or the areas within a given country. For example, they do
not behave the same way in the north or the south part of
France because of local traditions of public expression. It is
also true that some media lie or forbid crucial events, or
even at least euphemize about certain events, in order to
hide a part of them or to reduce their importance. The
same applies to experts opinions: they can lie, cheat,
euphemize, or sincerely forget some crucial events. For all
these reasons, we have chosen to base our identification
and our analysis of conflicts on the triangulation of three
main sources of data. Each one has its own limits, but
altogether they provide a credible image of a conflict, at
least regarding to the above definition.
A conflict is a social construction, which is identified by
the observer and depends on the definition of conflict
events and the types of observations. In our method, the
identification of the conflict is based on a triangulation of
the main sources of information (DRP, Surveys, litigation
data or other data). It is by cross checking and comparing
the various sources of information that an evaluation of
the state of conflictuality in a given area is made. This job
is performed by the experts of the team, on the basis of
the main data. The status of conflictbears on at least
two identifications in the main corpuses of data, for ex-
ample in the daily press and regarding verbatim by local
experts. The types of conflicts identified and the compari-
sons between different data bases aim at identifying sev-
eral discrepancies between local situations; for example,
DRP helps in revealing early oppositions to local projects
whereas administrative litigations are related to well in-
formed situations and revelation of infrastructure projects
by mainly public authorities.
The identification of the conflicts, is however, preceded
by the identification and diagnosis of the study area. In-
deed, we focus on precisely delimited geographical areas
and we collect and analyze the data pertaining to conflicts
occurring within those zones. This enables us to describe
with precision the conflicts and their evolution, and limits
the number of possible occurrences.
Identification and diagnosis of the study area
The area examined is always situated within an institution-
ally determined zone. Its geographical delimitation rests on
that of the local public institutions, such as: communities of
municipalities, conurbation comities, counties, regional na-
ture parks, sub-regional constituencies.... The study area
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 5 of 26
can comprise one or several of these administrative zones
several constituencies for instance. We shall only examine
the events that occur within the chosen area. An exception
is made for litigation studies. Because the amount of data
on the rulings of secondary tribunals is usually too small
and therefore not representative, we examine the district or
region in which the study area is situated.
Once the study area is defined we perform an area
diagnosis which must enable us to identify its main so-
cial and economic characteristics and its salient features
and actors involved within it.
The basic diagnosis report, of approximately 10 pages
in order to make comparisons, must comprise:
A general presentation (location, the geographic
morphology, history, social and economic
A presentation of the activities that depend on the
resources available on the territory;
The main territorial governance structures,
particularly the institutions.
The daily regional press (DRP)
DRP reaches in the hands of about 400 million readers
around the world every day. It is the second most popu-
lar medium after electronic media, and therefore an in-
teresting tool of observing voices of regional population.
Furthermore, it has the twofold specificity of being the
main medium of local news delivery and, for each daily
regional paper, to often enjoy a quasi-monopoly in their
circulation area. The DRP articles are an easily accessible
source of information on pre, during, and post-conflicts,
and complements efficiently the data found in other
sources, through surveys in particular. The DRP pro-
vides relatively detailed information about local affairs,
which is not the case of national newspapers (Rucht and
Neidhardt, 1999; Mc-Carthy et al. 1996).
The work consists in gathering the information pro-
vided by a given daily newspaper, by examining all the
issues published over a given period, of at least one year.
The newspapers can be consulted online or in paper
from, depending on availability. In the case of online
consultation, the inventory can be conducted via the
dissemination server providing access to the digitized
editorial articles published by the main daily national
and regional newspapers. The automatic keyword based
search method is only used when information is sought
about a particular topic, and not when a general inventory
of all land use conflicts is needed. All articles are then dis-
played one by one, before being selected or not as part of
our corpus. The articles quoted in the following sections
were selected using criteria that have enabled us to differen-
tiate the situations of tension from situations of conflicts
(See Section Definition of the scope of investigations).
When the information contained in one article en-
ables the researcher to identify the action, engagement
and connection of an actor, or when the article provides
complementary information about a previously described
conflictual situation, it is indexed in the corpus using dif-
ferent variables:
Its title
Its date of publication
The issue of the newspaper
The section and page in which it appeared
A very short summary of the facts described
Whenever possible a copy of the article is made (other-
wise the summary replaces the copy). The list and the
copies of the articles enable us, in laboratory, to group to-
gether the articles relating to the same conflict.
This process is not aimed at describing exhaustively all
the conflictual situations. Rather, we deal here with a spe-
cific type of event, which is the one written about and re-
ported to the public through the press. This source has
important biases which rules out using it by itself. The press
dissimulate, it can be partisan or controlled by certain inter-
ests. However, using the press has for several years been
recognized as a means in the perspective of an exhaustive
quantitative analysis of conflict of obtaining the "most
complete account of events for the widest sample of geo-
graphical or temporal units", as Olzak (1992).
Surveys conducted by experts
Interviews with experts provide information about the
level of conflictuality. We aim to cross check this informa-
tion with other sources, or to highlight conflictual events
that might not have been brought to the attention of the
courts or of the DRP. The interviews are aimed at identify-
ing, in each zone, the dynamics of evolution of the rural
and peri-urban areas concerned, at determining the types
of conflicts and tensions relative to competing uses of
rural spaces and at finding out the solutions implemented
in terms of territorial governance.
We take great care of the fact that the experts inter-
viewed have no private interest on land or other local re-
sources involved in the conflicts, so that there are not
personally affected by changes in land use for example. For
the case studies quoted in next section the interviews were
conducted with experts contacted beforehand by telephone,
using a list of 40 to 50 people per study area. We choose to
interview experts from various professional and associative
fields so that a wide variety of opinions were represented.
Each interview session (face to face) lasts between two and
three hours. Each expert can be interviewed once, or sev-
eral times when necessary (depending on the sufficiently re-
quired information). The respondents were interviewed
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 6 of 26
with an open questionnaire so as to obtain as much in-
formation as possible, concerning conflicts and their
The questions may not directly be related to the con-
flicts. Indeed it has been observed that asking direct ques-
tions about conflicts generally leads the interviewees to
refuse to answer. The interviewers present themselves as
conducting surveys on local situations of governance, of
actions and interactions between actors, sometimes with
specializations depending on the interviews and the insti-
tutions they represent. The questions are always indirect:
the interviewer must be trained to identify the conflictual
elements of a situation. They must ensure that the ques-
tions in the grid presented below are all answered. The
analysis of the conflicts is conducted later, in committee
This work enables us to gain a more thorough under-
standing of conflictual processes, to describe them and
to identify their components:
The materiality of the conflicts;
The actors of the conflicts;
The motives of the conflicts and how they emerge,
which contribute to generating them;
The manifestations of the conflicts, which imply
various levels of symbolic or effective violence, the
engagement of the actors ranging from petitioning
to engaging in legal proceedings, or assault.
The 10-page report of the conflicts analyzed on the
basis of the interviews with the experts lists the main
conflicts that have occurred in the area considered, ac-
cording to the interviews conducted. Quantification is
impossible but the report provides insight into the per-
ceptions of some of the key local actors on the conflict-
ual process. A short one-page synthesis is provided with
the report summarizing the main information obtained.
The interviews with experts cannot be our only source
of information about conflicts for they present strong
biases due to the method of analysis: the actors may have
forgotten some elements; they may amplify or minimize,
omit or lie about certain points. It is therefore absolutely
necessary to complement them with other sources of data.
Nevertheless, the interviews provide information that other
sources cannot provide, and help us to gain insight into the
dynamics of local alliances and oppositions, by enabling us
to interact with the actors of the conflicts or with the ob-
servers of conflictual situations and of their development in
the long term. We agree, here, with the conclusions of
other studies about conflicts drawn on the basis of inter-
views with local actors, and more particularly with the con-
clusions of a study conducted for the World Bank by
Deininger and Castagnini (2006) about the conflicts related
to land property in Uganda.
Thus, we conduct semi-directive interviews.
Interview and interview analysis guide
The interview guide indicates the different items of in-
formation that must be collected in view of the analysis
and exploitation. It does not provide with a clear de-
scription of the questions that must be asked during
the interview. The interviewer must ensure that all
items are discussed before ending the interview and
must write a report. The questions to be asked and an-
swered are the following; the order of the items is only
Location (precise or extended)
Spatial support of the conflict (punctiform or linear)
Activities and their restrictions of use (productive,
residential, recreational, "nature", exclusion, network
infrastructures, public facilities)
Number of actors (or groups) involved
Actors (or groups) (by analyzing their degree of
organization); distinguishing the actors who have an
institutionally recognized mediation functional
Origin/trigger of the conflict
The causes mentioned
Relation to time (duration, frequency)
Relation to space (evolution of the space of concern
during the conflict, by distinguishing if necessary,
the places of litigation, the places where the
conflicts take place and the places that are evoked
by the actors)
Forms of expression: (a) Verbal expression, individual
expression (threatening mail, altercation, intentional
damage of property, confiscation) collection
expression (petitions, pamphlets, collective
occupancy, marches, etc.). b) Departure (eviction,
non-participation, passive refusal to obey a legal order
or a summons, lasting refusal to participate. c) legal
action (civil or administrative jurisdiction)
Demands/claims declared or not by the protagonists
(elimination or minimization of the nuisance with
or without a proposal of technical solution), demand
for material or symbolic compensation, interruption
of construction, etc.)
Development (possible solution, the conflict
continues, agreement, tribunals....)
Public facilities possibly cited during the conflict
(as a cause, as an element of context, as a solution)
Types of arguments put forward:
effects on the personal living environment, versus
activities, versus natural environment, collective,
on the health of the individual or of the group,
on the personal versus collective costs
on the principle: transgression of a locally
accepted rule of a group, of an official law
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 7 of 26
Evaluation of the behavior of the actors who are
statutorily assigned to intervene as mediator, as
guarantors of the rules
We refer here to the list of local experts. They are obvi-
ously not all present on all the territories, but the goal is
to provide information about each main category of the
preceding Box and to achieve a balanced representation
The experts to be contacted on each site
Local public institutions
Local elected officials: mayors of municipalities and
other elected representatives (General councilors)
Directors/managers of inter-municipal
Economic director of inter-municipal planning
Chairman of an inter-municipal body or of
specialized committees (environment, tourism,
agriculture, commerce)
Institutions for the protection of the environment or
organizations of nature users
Regional Directorate for the Environment
(environmental protection agency)
Local associations for the protection of nature or for
the environment (water, hikers or other outdoor
Federations of hunters and fishermen and their local
Environment and Energy Management Agencies
Forestry and agriculture related organizations (Specific
attention is paid to this area of activities, and particularly
on agriculture)
National/regional forests offices
Federation of Forestry Owners
Local Land development and management bodies
Chambers of agriculture
Planning departments and agricultural economics
Federation of Farmers Unions
Regional directorates (planning, economic services,
agriculture and forestry)
Farmers (in person)
Socio-professional representation
Chamber of trade
Chamber of commerce and industry
Entrepreneurs clubs
Infrastructure planners
Water agency
Agency for electrification and water management
Agency for highway/motorway construction
Land Development and Rural Settlement
Land acquisition and relocation committees
Department of railways
Local construction agencies
Other State services
Sub-prefectures (general secretaries or attached
Economic services
District Court clerk
Other sources of information
Local press journalists
Police department
Analyses of litigation rulings
Administrative litigations should be collected from re-
spective courts for statistical analyses. Therefore, statistical
analysis of judiciary sources aims at examining the way in
which legal rules are mobilized in land use conflicts, using
a study of litigations between the parties involved in con-
flicts. This analysis targets a specific category of conflicts:
those that have taken a specific path and have led to legal
The inquiry on conflicts, through the quantitative study
of litigation, is an empirical methodology that has its own
limits and opportunities. As for the limits, the research in
legal sociology usually concludes, regarding empirical data,
that the resort to courts is always intrinsically marginal,
may the phenomenon be observed in developed or devel-
oping countries. The successive social acts that consist to
get informed on its rights, to choose a legal advice to solve
the dispute and to go to the courts constitute different
stages that select the people involved in conflicts. But at
the same time, even though the actors reluctant to settle-
ment and going to courts are a small part of the whole set,
this tiny fringe is likely to be a mass phenomenon con-
cerning a huge quantity of cases that can be studied statis-
tically. Furthermore, the study of this small fringe of
litigants can inform us about non judicial settlements: for
example when cases are filed but dropped before they are
adjudicated, it may be a sign that the resort to courts was
just a mean to open a negotiation.
In some developing countries, this selective dimension of
litigation is surely more acute. Cultural and financial bar-
riers for the access to courts, the likelihood of corruption
among the judges, the weak probability of implementation
of court decisions, given the failure of public administra-
tion, are disincentives for a judicial strategy. Nevertheless,
if the social phenomenon of litigation is quantitatively less
important in those countries, our researches (conflict over
water dam in Pakistan) and other empirical inquiries (for
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 8 of 26
example, the world survey of Antonio Azuela for the
Lincoln Institute about the conflicts over land evictions)
(Azuela and Herrera-Martin, 2010) show that the dynamic
of the process can be favorable to a development of judicial
strategies. In that case, the research will focus more on
evolutions that indicate an increase of legal consciousness
than on the intrinsically low level of judicial disputes on
the short term.
In France, disputes concerning activities which bear
environmental risk or are likely to impact farmland or
preserved natural spaces are adjudicated by Administra-
tive Tribunals. These frequently involve claims initiated
by associations and local residents against projects which
have been granted permits by administrative authorities
but whose impact is alleged to be harmful to the health
and well-being of the local environment and community.
objects of fruitful investigations in matters of infrastruc-
ture development or urban planning. The study of the
practices in penal law in this field reveals the maneuvers
possibilities that exist at all stages of the treatment of the
offence, and the possible solutions: by the administrative
authorities that detects the offence, by the prosecutor who
decide to not prosecute, or by the judge who decides to
pass an alternative sentence. They also highlight the diver-
sity of the origins of the offence reports submitted to the
legal system, depending on the priorities determined lo-
cally by the administrations concerned targeted pros-
ecution campaigns over a given period so as to solve a
local problem in a field where offences are much more
often reported by booking officers than by the victims of
the offences (Struillou, 2004).
With the exception of rare studies targeting specific asso-
ciative actors, (Leost, 1998), the statistical studies under-
taken on the basis of data from administrative jurisdictions
are almost non-existent, in the field of land-use litigation.
These sources are only used in the framework of general
statistical studies on the activities of administrative tribu-
nals, which, however, provide a useful basis for conducting
more targeted surveys (Barré et al. 2006).
Therefore, the analyses of conflicts based on the obser-
vation of legal and administrative litigations are conducted
at small administrative unit (department, district, division
etc.) level. This choice is justified by two arguments: on
the one hand, that particular administrative unit is the ter-
ritorial unit of reference for many actors, whether they be
public actors in charge of land use regulation (prefect,
non-central government services), or para-governmental
and private actors: Associations for the protection of the
environment generally act at these administrative levels;
the same applies to chambers of agriculture or the associa-
tions of hunters and fishermen; on the other hand, court
rulings generally state precisely where the problem is situ-
ated at municipal level (private litigations, applications for
annulment of municipal decrees or deliberations) or at de-
partmental level (applications for the annulment of pre-
fectoral decrees).
Land use and environmental conflicts consequently
reflect the way this administrative activity operates.
Knowledge of the inner workings of this system on a
normative and empirical level is imperative in order to
understand the logic behind the litigation. In the case of
administrative justice, this prerequisite seems easier to
meet than in other fields, like criminal sociology, or the
sociology of civil disputes, to the extent that the dispute
can be traced to administrative decisions and activity
This may not be the case for private law documents or
contracts, so it is easier to obtain data on the frequency
of claims in the case of administrative justice. It is
therefore with regard to the intensity of conflictual ac-
tivity must be assessed.
In developed countries, especially in France that the
corpus of court rulings is built using the Lamyline text-
ual legal database which comprises the complete texts of
the rulings made by the Court of appeals and Supreme
Courts. More precisely, this database comprises all the
rulings made by:
The State Council (highest administrative
jurisdiction in France) since October 1st 1964,
The Administrative Appeal courts since January 1st
The Court of cassation (highest civil jurisdiction in
France) since October 1st 1959 (excluding the
rulings by the Criminal Chamber which are included
from January 1st 1970 onwards),
The Court of Appeal since January 1st 1982.
The software has a search engine that enables us to
use the Boolean operators and those of several French
case law data bases. The search for rulings by the four
levels of jurisdiction defined above is conducted from
the following case law data bases:
State Council
Administrative Appeal Courts
the Court of cassation
Appeal Court
Contrary, in the developing countries it is often diffi-
cult to collect the statistics from administrative courts,
of the courts can be collected by searching manually
from the yearbook records in their libraries, which is of
course a time taking process. While in some developing
countries uncooperative behavior of the administrative
courts is discouraging the researchers
. Although the
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 9 of 26
case law hierarchy is not the same in the entire developing
world, it follows more or less the following structure:
Supreme court
High court
Session court
Obviously, only part of the land use conflicts has been
analyzed: those that have been dealt with by Courts of law,
which limits the number of conflicts selected and exam-
ined. Indeed, the "passage through court" is the result of a
selection using various filters: an individual's refusal to ne-
gotiate, an administrative authority's refuse to regularize
or on the contrary the intention to use the tribunal as a
lever for starting stalled negotiations or for conducting
them with a more favorable balance of power. These ele-
ments contribute to giving the conflicts that have been
dealt with in court a profile whose specificity must be dis-
cussed in the interpretation of the surveys' results, without
however considering that they represent all the conflicts
that occur in the various territories.
Data from other sources
The identification and listing of the conflicts are per-
formed on the basis of the data from the three sources
described above and on their comparison.
Nevertheless, other secondary methods of analysis can be
added to this initial list, especially in developing countries
or less developed countries, where some of the previous
sources of data are missing. This can be particularly true
for litigation data. These additional methods are aimed at
conducting a more precise analysis or at specifying such or
such dimensions of conflicts.
We shall, here, content ourselves with mentioning
them. They are respectively:
Sectoral analyses: for example, analyses targeting the
farming sector or land property issues;
In depth analyses carried out by researchers/experts
in specific disciplines: for example, interviews of
actors by sociologists, or monitoring of meetings or
postal questionnaires administered in the context of
research in social psychology;
Study of particular situations: for example, study
concerning a river, or farming facilities or land takes
for road and water reservoir construction.
In depth analyses of digital aerial photographs and
remote sensing images through Geographic
Informative System (GIS) of the territory; for example
if the changes over a piece of land are being monitored
in case of superposition of uses and its impacts;
Analyzing personal blogs and web pages through
internet, which is growing source of information on
opinions and expertises in the developing countries.
Inquiries implemented in Greece combined different
sources, from local newspapers to online websites sup-
ported by environmentalists associations (observatory of
natural spaces). The latest source has the advantage to
cover a large period (20012011), but is characterized by a
selective approach, since data are furnished by local activ-
ists. Other sources complete the research methodology as
follows: interviews with local experts (journalists, lawyers)
and key stakeholders like planning agencies, political
leaders and elected officials, additional events collected
through other web platforms (blog sites of environmental
activists). An important source of documentations was also
constituted by political materials like programs of local par-
ties for municipal elections.
For analytical methods of the case study from Pakistan
(presented in next section), data have been collected
from various secondary sources to crosscheck the re-
sults. For example, the information has been collected
from literature published by public and private organiza-
tions, on the case study perspective. The data have also
been collected through aerial photographs and remote
sending images, through satellites which were treated
under GIS in order to examine land cover changes and
impacts of the superposition of land uses due to decision
for infrastructural projects by the public authorities over
existed economic activities in the region. This technique
of research became reliable after development in technical
software. Moreover, data also collected after in-depth ana-
lyses from personal blogs and different web pages, these
sources of information are very promising for future re-
searchers of land use conflicts due to huge development
in internet in the developing countries.
The Conflict © database
The scope of our method is rather large, and we intend to
provide it as an opportunity to studying land and re-
sources conflicts in developed as well as developing coun-
tries. However, we have built a data base related to our
own investigations, especially in France (13 case studies in
different areas) and Pakistan. This data base can be ex-
panded or reproduced for other types of investigations, in
other countries or regional areas, given its wide scope and
the general character of the contained items. We will
present it in in broader terms in the following paragraphs.
In the context of the research conducted on conflict,
using the relational database responds to a twofold analyt-
ical need. The aim, first of all, is to create data that can be
exploited quantitatively, using the documents and survey
results: the coding operations performed on the basis of
the source documents are aimed at quantifying the phe-
nomena of conflictuality, which will be analyzed and pos-
sibly examined from the perspective of the profiles of the
areas concerned. But this database must also enable us to
conduct a comparative evaluation: comparison between
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 10 of 26
the sources used (court cases, newspaper articles, ques-
tionnaires), and comparison between the different areas
The comparison between the different sources rests on
the database' structure, which is designed in such a way as
to be able to compare them. Besides the variables relative
to specific observation contexts (type of rules used in the
cases, number of press articles discussing a particular sub-
ject) some common variables have also been defined. The
researchers conducting the coding operations must trans-
late the specificity of their material in these cross sectional
categories described in detail below relative to the
types of conflicts observed, to the actors involved, or to
the uses and arguments discussed.
Database structure and categories of conflicts
The overall structure of the database can be schematized
in the Figure 1 below. The data base incorporates three
main data tables, that is, in order of inclusion:
A table containing the variables relative to the
geographic locations of the conflicts (in relation to a
municipality, a community of municipalities, a
département or a district);
A table indicating the variables describing the conflicts
per se, that is, the cross sectional categories which
are identical whatever the source of the data, and the
categories relative to a context of observation (The
legal categories defining, for example, the nature of a
request made to a jurisdiction);
And finally a table providing information about the
profile of the actors involved.
Four other dependent tables must be mentioned: the
description of the conflicts' "object", as well as informa-
tion about the actors concerned: what the actor involved
in the conflict uses the land for, the arguments the actor
uses, and the interests that motivate the latter's engage-
ment in the conflict.
The difficulty of studying conflict in one territory using
different types of sources has to do with the identification
of comparable analytical categories, whatever the observa-
tion point selected. This difficulty is crucial in the analysis
of the requests sent to tribunals, in so far as those requests
are expressed in a constrained language, that of the legal
categories. Moreover, the enumeration of the criteria de-
fining the contours of a conflict as a homogenous entity is
a methodological demand which becomes particularly
acute when exploiting press articles. Thus, while "format-
ting" the actions at law as clearly identifiable cases natur-
ally leads us to choose "case" as the unit of measurement
of the "conflictual" event, it is the "article" that is used as
the measurement unit for the analysis of the press, when
reconstituting the event after it has occurred.
Furthermore, a common definition of categories that
cross the analysis of actions at law and that of the press,
has to be found in order to enable the researchers to use a
common language of description of conflicts. This does
not exclude the necessity to define, for each type of obser-
vation material, specific variables relative to the source
used. Thus, the nomenclature of requests, used by admin-
istrative court clerks for example, has been used for in-
ternally describing the different types of actions at law.
Similarly, some variables are only meant to be used in the
framework of an analysis of the press (number of articles
devoted to a particular conflict). We present here the main
components of the database, which is described compre-
hensively in several internal documents (for example,
Galman and the participants of Conflict Program 2007).
The trickiest variables to define are, naturally, those that
pertain to the different objects of conflict (see below). The
detailed examination of the categories defined reveals the
combination of several modalities of definition; complexity
inherent to the expression of the forms of conflictuality.
Indeed, the "objects of conflict" refer, depending to the
cases, to:
more or less clearly territorialized economic
activities, whether they specifically involve using
natural resources (agriculture, extraction of
underground resources), location of production
activities (industrial production, production of
energy, waste treatment), or activities related to the
presence of amenities (tourism);
Figure 1 Simplified graph of the database' structure. The circles
represent the relationships of inclusion between the tables. We have
noted in italics the tables that are dependent on the "conflict" and
"actor" tables.
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 11 of 26
types of legal authorizations granted by
administrative authorities, in as much as they
correspond to land uses as defined by law;
forms of social relationships marked by
geographical specificities: Neighborhood
relationships for instance.
The objects of conflicts: the categories used
Accessibility and easement
Right of access and passage
Facilities classified for the protection of the
Quarries, borrow pits
Salvage/recycling, storing, waste treatment
Salvage/recycling storage of materials (cars, tires)
Production, storage of chemical substances
Other regulated industries
Site rehabilitation
Mining site
Industrial production site
Storage site
Service activities
Tourism, leisure
Transport, Fuel distribution
Trade, retail, advertising
Road, rail, sea, air transport
Agriculture, forestry, fishing
Public utility infrastructure
Airport, railway, road, harbor infrastructure
Construction of water reservoir
Production energy transport
Telecommunication infrastructure
Public facility
Management and Conservation of Natural Areas
Water quality management
Soil quality management
Air quality management
Landscape, wetlands
Conservation/ management of the Fauna/flora/
Urban planning/development operation or document
Camping sites
Urban development document
Right of pre-emption
Public domain occupancy
Land restructuring
Risk management areas
Natural areas
Management of natural areas
Construction/extension of agricultural buildings
Construction/extension of residential building
Construction/extension of commercial building
Construction/extension of thoroughfares
Neighborhood nuisances
Declaration of co-ownership
Theft, damage, attack
Profiling the actors engaged in conflicts: categories of
actors, land uses, arguments
The analysis of the actors engaged in conflicts is sum-
marized with great care in the grid of the variables
used. Once the credible engagement of an actor has
been identified, one can, indeed, distinguish the actors
that are at the origin of this action (the protesting
actors) from those which this action targets (the dis-
puted actors).
As stated in point 1.2., the typology of the groups of
actors that we have used for the database is founded on
a distinction between users of land and resources for
production purposes, whether or not they are the
owners of the land (farmers, forest entrepreneurs, arti-
sans, industrial entrepreneurs, providers of recreational
services) and users of land and resources for non-
productive purposes, whether they use the land in ques-
tion occasionally or continuously (residents, hunters,
fishermen, sportspeople, hikers, tourists, secondary resi-
dents) (See below). If a local authority body, or a State
department is, for example, user of resources (in the
case of well boring for water for municipal consump-
tion, or of public road maintenance by the public
services), we shall consider the actor concerned as a
"representative", considering that during a conflictual
confrontation, s/he will refer to the authority which his
role as representative confers upon him/her, and as de-
fender of collective interests.
The categories of actors involved in the conflicts studied
Farming or equivalent occupation
Irrigation operators
Forest entrepreneurs
Fish farmers
Industrial actors
Industrial entrepreneur (mining activities)
Construction and civil engineering firms
Industrial entrepreneurs in the manufacturing
Actors of the market service sector
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 12 of 26
Transport enterprises
Energy suppliers
Providers of services related to waste management
Providers of services related to water management
Real estate developers, planners
Actors of the hotel industry
Other market services
Ass. For the protection of the environment
(national or worldwide)
Ass for the protection of the local environment
Hunters and Fishermen's Association
Political party
Other associations
Local public authorities
Public Intermunicipal Cooperation Institute
Regional Natural Parks
Local Administrative body (water agency,
Committee for the protection of natural sites
and monuments)
National Public authority
De-concentrated State services
Judicial authority
Elected representatives
Municipal, departmental, regional representatives
Professional organization
Trade unions
Consular chambers
Permanent residents
Temporary residents
Owners syndicates
Tourists, non-sedentary population
Once the actors of the conflicts are identified, we
describe the controversial or conflict generating land
uses that is the land uses the spatial consequences of
which the objecting parties consider as sources of
constraints. The distinction between actors and uses
requires the taking into account, through standard
observation, of the fact that one user can use land
for several purposes: A farmer can also be a herder,
a hunter, or a defender of nature; an industrial
the framework of his/her work conduct polluting
Different configurations of opposition emerge, in-
cluding between actors making the same use of land.
Particular attention is placed on the local public
mechanisms that are liable to exacerbate or crystallize
certain tensions into conflicts.
The categories of land uses identified for the analysis
of conflicts
Creation of infrastructure
Production and transport of energy
Road, railway, airport infrastructure
Waterway transport infrastructure
Waste management
Water supply
Public buildings
Advertising infrastructures
Recreational/tourism infrastructures
Production of services and exploitation of infrastructures
Tourism, hotel and catering industry
Air, road, railway, river, sea transport
Production and transport of energy
Trade, advertising
Domestic waste transportation and management
Water catchment, treatment, storage and supply
Management of hazardous waste and materials
Utilization of buildings housing public services
Exploitation of recreational or tourism infrastructure
Agricultural, fishing and forest production
Professional fishing
Industrial production
Site rehabilitation
Recreational and touristic use
Hunting, fishing
Hiking, motor sports, non motor sports
Tourisms events (cultural, musical, etc.)
Residential use
Construction/extension of social housing
Development of poor housing
Residential use
Conservation and management of resources
Fauna, flora, biodiversity
Surface and underground water
Site, landscape
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 13 of 26
Absence of a characterized land use
Just like the distinction between actors and users, the
identification of specific registers of argumentation is
based on the hypothesis that some categories of actors
can, depending on the conflictual situation, use specific
arguments. The capacity for technical and legal argu-
mentation can for example depend on the degree of col-
lective mobilization which a given conflict gives rise to.
An important cornerstone for the analysis of conflicts
consists, indeed, in highlighting the registers of argu-
mentation used by the actors. Argumentative openness
implies that the (individual or institutional) actors diver-
sity their registers both from the point of view of values
and that of rules, so as to lend as much efficiency as
possible to their protest movement. It can perfectly
well result in contradictions when the same actor puts
forward both the individual's interest and the general
interest. But beyond this classic opposition, these argu-
mentative strategies appear to be more complex when
using the "general interest" argument requires the
mobilization of distinct norms, which are often reveal-
ing of contradictions in the law itself (Lascoumes,
1995): thus, in the context of a protest against an
urbanization project, the principle of controlled devel-
opment of land and the argument in favor of housing
development are used in turns; both categories of gen-
eral interest are recognized by legislation.
Registers of argumentation: categories of analysis
Scientific and technical argumentation
Protection of ecosystems
Infrastructures and equipment
Risk evaluation and management
Socio-economic argumentation
Economic interest
Sustainable development
General local, regional or national interest
Reference to private land rights
Private responsibility
Public responsibility
Quality of life
Perception of risks
Living environment
Insecurity of individuals and property
Respect of the law and regulations
Risk prevention
Constitution and exploitation of the data originating from
the daily regional press
After collecting the data from the DRP, the inscription is
made in the data base using the following schemes. For
each conflict identified, we include in the database a series
of descriptive variables that groups together the following
A brief summary of how the conflict developed, as
described in the relevant article or series of articles,
The spatial environment of conflictual events, the
facilities - being used or subject to usage restrictions
that are blamed as sources of constraints,
The resources that have been modified, and the
usage or activities affected by these modifications
(reconstituted using the provided arguments),
The opposing actors and their modes of engagement
in the conflict,
The geographic location of the goods/resources
affected by the controversial facilities
After analysis, we compile a 10-page long data sheet
about the conflicts reported in the DRP. It lists the main
conflicts that have occurred in the zone considered and
classifies them according to the number of times they
have been mentioned in the press. This helps us to ob-
tain a picture of conflict, and of the media impact of the
different causes of conflicts. This datasheet is accompan-
ied by a one page synthesis summarizing the main infor-
mation obtained.
Constitution and exploitation of the data originating from
litigation rulings
Once the database originating from litigation court rul-
ing is compiled, it is analyzed statistically and lexically.
The decisions are coded in such a way as to constitute a
database integrated, first, into an Excel spreadsheet and
then incorporated into a data processing software system
(4D). The variables and modalities are defined using the
above mentioned grid of analysis of conflicts also used
for the interviews with experts and the DRP.
That corpus is exploited through the sequential and
cross comparison of the significant variables, and through
the analysis of the frequency of the legal references made.
This analysis is completed by the textual statistical analyses
performed with the software ALCESTE, so as to identify,
through the language used in courts, the local specificities
of the conflicts. These lexico-metric tools have only been
used in the framework of the analysis of legal documents,
which are well suited to this type of analysis due to the
highly formalized structure of the argumentation. Without
describing in detail the modalities implemented and the re-
sults obtained with this tool (Kirat and Torre 2004), it is
useful to specify its scope as a component of a wider
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 14 of 26
methodological approach to conflict analysis. The analysis
of lexical statistics is justified by the fact that the language
used in the court rulings is the product of the legislative or
regulation texts used by the parties or the judge; this ter-
minology is used to describe objects of protest or demand
but also to express logics of action and goals (obtain the re-
establishment of a right-of-way easement, the cancellation
of a building permit in a zone of ecological interest, or the
cancellation of a public inquiry conducted in the framework
of a project of creation of a Classified facility for the protec-
tion of the environment). The lexical analysis is one of the
elements of the study of the arguments mobilized by the
actors. It enables us to show that one generic type of con-
flictual factors does not give rise to one unique and univer-
sal model of action in administrative courts. In other
words, the actors seeking justice do not behave in a
homogenous manner in all the cases studied.
The use of ALCESTE is not a technique for a-priori hy-
pothesis testing, but for exploration and description. The
program generates an empirically based classification of
text units according to the pattern of co-occurrences of
word tokens within these units. The lexical analysis soft-
ware operates by dividing the corpus in elementary con-
text, that is to say, a group of words identified by their
length and punctuation. The similarity of these sentences
is determined by reference to the similarity of the words
used. A descending hierarchical classification distinguishes
several classes of context units, and measures the close-
ness or distance between them. The classes identified
constitute a basis for a principal component analysis
(PCA), which is then used to realize graphical projec-
tion structured by the two most significant vectors. The
researcher then begins to make interpretations based on
the output from the program. It facilitates the discover-
ing of the salient meaning structures and implements
mechanisms for an independent analysis of the meaning
of words, in order to get a statistical ranking of lexical
statements in a given corpus.
The search for court rulings is performed by crossing
the name of the departments selected with several key-
words, defined in such a way as to cover as comprehen-
sively as possible the scope of legal questions in which
the land use conflicts can be formulated.
The search keywords used for the compilation of a sample
of cases
Hunting or hunting right
Building law
Farm laws and hunting
Farm laws and protection of nature
Co-ownership or nuisance
Directive 92/43/EEC
Land application or breading
Fauna and flora
Classified facility
Nuisance and olfactory
Nuisance and noise/sound
National Natural Park or Regional Natural Park
Passage and (hiking or Moto or quad)
Rural land reparcelling
Normal nuisance or neighbourhood nuisance
Wetlands or swamp or bog
The judgments made in cases that occur locally at de-
partmental level can be identified thanks to the effect of
standardization of court decisions: the latter must include
the address of the parties involved in the trial. Moreover,
most decisions include the name of the study zone.
For example, the text of a judgment rendered by the
French administrative litigation court is systematically
made of four sections. The first states the identity of the
petitioners, the nature and date of issue of the contested
administrative act, and the administration that has is-
sued the act, which is therefore sued in the litigation.
The following section describes the judge's answer as to
the means of form used by the different parties, that is
to say the arguments relative to elements of the proced-
ure (receivability of the request, the petitioners' right to
act, etc.). The third section contains the judge's answer
concerning the substance, that is to say the arguments
used to oppose or to defend the administrative act itself.
The fourth and final section evaluates the sanctions and
compensations to impose depending on the ruling given.
At the end of this search, the corpus is reviewed so as to
eliminate duplicates; indeed strong redundancy between
the decisions found using different keywords can occur.
The non-relevant decisions are subsequently eliminated,
such as for example, the judgments concerning hunting
accidents, or those relative to cases occurring in depart-
ments other than that where the parties reside
Once the data is analyzed a 10-page datasheet on the
conflicts identified through the exploitation of the litiga-
tion courts' data is compiled. It describes in detail, for
each type of jurisdiction concerned (administrative and
civil), the categories of requests that are the most fre-
quently submitted to tribunals, and also indicates the
main argumentation strategies observed according to the
categories of actors (what corpus of rules is mobilized by
what type of actor?). The question of the "outcome" of
the conflicts, sometimes difficult to evaluate when ana-
lyzing the press, is here systematically interpreted, in so
far as with the exception of abandonment or discontinu-
ance of a procedure, a case judged on the basis of its
substance gives rise to a decision that will oppose a
"winning" party to a "losing" party. Thus analysis of the
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 15 of 26
"rate of success" per category of conflict and per type of
actors is therefore an important component of this syn-
thesis. As a matter of fact, as in the case of the press and
the interviews with experts, a one-page synthesis sum-
marizes the main information obtained.
Added local socio-economic data
In addition to these elements we include in the database
information relative to the area and municipality con-
cerned and useful for understanding the local context in
which conflicts emerge. These data are of two types:
First of all, they are socio-economic variables de-
scribing the profile of a territory from the point of
view of social dimensions (tax related data, propor-
tion of social housing), of environmental issues
(percentage of farm and natural lands, of areas pro-
tected for their heritage value), of the demographic
dynamics (migration, population pyramid), etc.
A second group of data provides information about
the different administrative decisions that are liable
to give rise to opposition: Building permits granted
by mayors (data on the authorizations granted by
the Regional Directorates of Infrastructure), or
permits issued by the prefectures in accordance with
regulations concerning classified facilities.
Both types of data refer to two levels of explanation of
conflictuality: The first, immediate, level of explanation
helps us to evaluate a rate of conflictuality in relation to
an activity of reference that generates controversy. Thus,
intense conflictuality concerning urban development
generally reflects a highly dynamic construction market.
The succession of protests related to pollution issues is
often the consequence of an area being highly exposed
to nuisances because of the important number of classi-
fied facilities. However, the intensity of this conflictuality
can be, in relative values, higher or inferior to that of the
activity of reference. Using data on local social and eco-
nomic background enables us to test hypotheses on the
"long term" relationship between the dynamics of a terri-
tory and the modes of conflictuality, and to incorporate
social and human dimensions. Thus, the level of conflic-
tuality often proves higher in areas where the levels of
income and education are high, which implies that the
population mobilized is well informed and educated.
Illustration of data crossing using the conflict method.
Examples from developed and developing countries
The use of our methodology of analysis, and of the data
contained in the Conflict © database led to several works
(some of them, marked by asterisk * are presented in the
bibliography), performed on a few case studies, and to an
increasing number of publications, quoted above. Our
aim, here, is not to enter into all the details of these stud-
ies, but to provide examples of studies based on different
areas, in quasi opposite situations. Thus, we have chosen
two examples, based on two case studies that have been
studied extensively by our teams, in order to provide infor-
mation on the way the method and the data base have
been used but also about the options provided by them in
front of different situations. The two case studies (the
Greater Paris region and the Chotiari reservoir case in
Pakistan) are rather different in many ways:
The Greater Paris region case study is located in a
developed country, in a very densely populated area, in
a peri-urban and very rich region, involving rural and
urban inhabitants, conflicting for scarce resources;
The Chotiari reservoir case study is located in
developing country, in a sparse area, in a rural and
very poor region, involving local users of land in a
conflict against the loss of their land and natural
Thus following subsections are devoted to the presen-
tation of the dynamics of land use conflicts in these two
areas, involving reflections on the use of our method in
developed and developing countries, and about the pos-
sible adaptations to changing situations. We have also
highlighted the different results provided by the use of
various data, and their comparative utility.
Conflicts in developed countries. An example of analysis
of conflictuality in the greater Paris region
The research conducted using our methodology in devel-
oped countries has led to studies of several sites located in
rural and peri-urban areas in France
. They have resulted
in several publications that jointly or alternatively use one
or several of the aforementioned sources. They are of great
importance with regards to the French case, because there
is an ongoing debate on the role of land-use and proximity
conflicts in rural and peri-urban areas. Namely: which
types of conflicts occur in these zones? Are they related to
public or private actors? Are they legitimate or are they
part of the Nimby phenomenon? Can they be considered
as signals of public decision failure? Do they prevent local
An illustration of how we have used the data collected
using our method, performed by using the Conflict ©data-
base, is provided through the analysis of the levels of con-
flictuality in the Greater Paris Region, one of the areas
surveyed (Darly 2009; Pham and Kirat, 2008; Pham et al.
2012), and, more particularly, through a comparison of
two sources: data on the activities of the courts and the
daily regional press. Paris is the national capital region of
France, but also, and by far, the largest metropolitan area
in France and can only be compared with two or three
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 16 of 26
other metropolitan regions in Europe. Around the
highly urbanised core composed of Paris and its sub-
urbs, a peri-urban belt has received many residential
and industrial activities that produce more or less urba-
nised rural landscapes. Within this peri-urban belt, the
scarcity of well-located vacant spaces (well-connected
to transport facilities and services centres) and the di-
versity of actors and interests that share the same rural
environment raises many tensions and conflicts over
farmland uses. But the peri-urban belt is also an area
where several local development and planning initia-
tives dedicated to farmland protection and farming en-
terprises survival are currently carried out. So the level
of conflict is quite high, and the local inhabitants are
somewhat dissatisfied with decisions of building infra-
structures of different types (highways, railroads, air-
port, windmills, new towns) near the suburbs.
To start with, let us examine the geography of
infrastructure-related conflicts
in the Greater Paris
Region, the size of the pyramids indicating the number
of legal proceedings. These conflicts are a good indica-
tor of the process of peri-urbanization the region has
been undergoing, a process that is met with much op-
position from populations that reside in the areas con-
cerned. Figure 2 shows that the infrastructure related
conflicts are not randomly distributed in the Paris Region.
On the contrary, they are concentrated in the area border-
ing the urban centre of Paris: One can see that the highly
urbanized part of the Paris metropolis (Paris and its three
bordering departments, or the "petite couronne"little
crown) seems little affected. The conflicts are revealing of
the spatial constraints the Paris agglomeration faces in its
process of expansion and in the construction of the infra-
structures that are necessary to the implementation of
new urban developments.
The evolution of infrastructure-related conflicts over
three successive periods - 19751985, 19851995 and
19952005 - corresponds to the expansion of the areas
represented in grey on the map, areas which correspond
to municipalities with a population of over 5000 inhabi-
tants. Over the last thirty years, the grey area has not ex-
panded much but that the conflicts have multiplied in
different places, all located at the border of the petite
couronne. They are peri-urban municipalities at the
interface between the Paris agglomeration and the nat-
ural and agricultural areas which still represent over 50
percent of the total area of the Paris region. These muni-
cipalities have a high rate of urbanization (on average
over 50 construction permits issued every year) and will
no doubt become urban municipalities. The conflicts show
that urban expansion does not always occur easily, be-
cause attempts to create infrastructures are confronted
with organized opposition from residents who wish to pre-
serve nature or their living environment. Conflicts here
often take the form of opposition to decisions made by the
public authorities, whether they concern the construction
or the extension of infrastructure. They are a good expres-
sion of the process of legitimation of reflexivity that starts
(Rosanvallon, 2008), in particular when it is based on logic
of proximity with local populations exercising their demo-
cratic rights to intervene.
The Conflicts © database can also be used for examining
the logics behind the location of conflicts such as they are
revealed through the analysis of two different sources
compared with the results of surveys conducted in this
zone. For example, we observe heterogeneity between the
DRP sources (with the daily newspaper "Le Parisien") and
the litigation courts' data on conflicts related to infrastruc-
tures of public interest (Figure 3) or to urban development
or the development of open spaces (Figure 4). The con-
flictual dynamics around the infrastructure identified by
the local press clearly indicate that conflicts are far more
intense in the western part of the Paris region where the
value of land, the average income of the residents and as-
sociative activities are higher than in the rest of the region.
Thus, mediatization, patent in the press articles, seems
conditioned by a specific social context that gives conflicts
a particular "territorial style". However, the similarities
Period: 1975-1985 Period: 1995-2005Period: 1985-1995
Figure 2 Geography of infrastructure-related conflicts in the Greater Paris Region from 1975 to 2005 (litigation court sources).
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 17 of 26
between the results obtained from both sources seem
much stronger in the case of the conflicts related to urban
development and the management of open spaces.
We can go further and undertake systematic compari-
sons between both sources, so as to compile complete and
opposable profiles of conflictuality in the same zone.
Figure 3, built from data covering the 20032005 period,
provided by the DRP, highlights the different types of con-
flicts reported, as well as the number of press articles pub-
lished about them. This gives us an idea of the intensity of
those conflicts, as well as their respective repercussions. A
distinction is made here between remedial conflicts (which
start after the implementation of an infrastructure for ex-
ample, or the occurrence of a contested action) and pre-
ventive conflicts (which are triggered when a project is
publicized, for example, in the framework of a public
enquiry pertaining to a building permit), a distinction that
is possible thanks to the fact that the data have dates asso-
ciated to them.
A process similar to that conducted with the DRP can
be undertaken using the decisions made by tribunals, and
more particularly by administrative tribunals. This leads to
noticeably different results (Figure 5), which reveal the im-
portance of using different sources of data for analyzing
The database can also be used for analyzing more pre-
cisely certain categories of conflicts - in this case the
conflicts related (directly or indirectly) to the uses of
agricultural land (Darly 2009; Darly and Torre 2013a,b).
We make a distinction between three main groups of con-
flicts according to the characteristics of the contested fa-
cilities: the facilities dedicated to the functioning of the
Figure 3 Conflicts related to infrastructure of public utility reported by the Daily Regional Press (2005) and litigation rulings
(19992005) in the Greater Paris Region.
Figure 4 Conflicts related to urban development and the development of open spaces reported by the Daily Regional Press (2005)
and litigation rulings (19992005) in the Greater Paris Region.
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 18 of 26
city construction of transport or energy infrastructures,
productive or residential activities, burial or spreading of
waste, building and housing, commercial and industrial
zones the mechanisms related to agricultural eco-
nomics in these territories - easements, re-parceling,
and those related to landscaping projects zones for
the protection of land and natural resources, Regional
Natural Parks (Figure 6). Here again, we can see the
importance of the conflicts related to the presence of
the capital city (Paris) and to its expansion into peri-
urban areas which regularly encroaches on land areas
reserved for agricultural purposes or nature conserva-
tion and provokes the opposition of some of the people
already residing in these areas.
Comparing the results of the analysis of the DRP and of
litigation ruling (Figure 7) shows noticeable differences in
the case of conflicts related to the use of agricultural land:
while the oppositions against the regulatory mechanisms
for the protection of nature and open spaces represent a
large number of litigation cases. The press reveals, more
specifically, the collective and publicized dimension of the
actions undertaken against so called urban sprawl interest
projects (against infrastructures for example). This finding
indicates that certain conflictual situations seem to lack
the public dimension necessary for their publicization and
therefore hardly feature in the press, but take the form of
individual litigation cases. These cases mostly involve op-
positions against administrative decisions such as land oc-
cupancy authorizations in urban law (building permits
and planning certificates for example). Finally, a number
of conflicts that have been the object of litigation concern
similar categories of actors: It is the case of oppositions
against some land restructuring projects, internal to the
farming world. Inversely, it is mostly the confrontation be-
tween local residents and nonresident users that appears
to be the main source of the conflicts that feature in the
local press, conflicts in which the collective action dimen-
sion prevails.
-20 -10 0 10 20
Resistance to farm and agri-food facilities,…
Agricultural technology and practices
Agricultural urbanization
Agri-food industrial sites
Resistance to urbanization and its consequences
Mining sites
Alternative energies
Transport and Telecommunicaiton infrastructure
Buildings and public services
Waste storage/burial
Residential zones
Commercial activities
zoning for urban development
Zoning for mining
Resistance to rural landscape protection
Regulations on the protection of agricultural facilities
Zone for the protection of patrimonial and natural spaces
Refusal to grant a building permit
Conflicts Le Parisien (preventive)
Conflits Le Parisien (curative)
Administrative liti
Figure 5 The main sources of land use conflicts in the Greater Paris Region, according to the administrative courts' rulings
(Versailles, Cergy, Melun) (Source: Le Parisien, 20032005; Archive collections of Administrative tribunals, 20052006); Darly 2009.
Land use
14% 4.5%
Resistance to urbanization
and its consequences
Resistance to farm and agri-food facilities,
industrialization and its consequences
Resistance to rural landscape
Figure 6 Conflict in the Greater Paris Region as observed by the DRP (Source: Le Parisien, 2003205); Darly 2009.
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 19 of 26
Conflicts in developing countries. An example in
South Pakistan
For a particular case study of land use conflict in devel-
oping countries, we have selected the case of Chotiari
water reservoir from Pakistan; in order to put light on
the land use conflicts caused by an infrastructural pro-
ject setting with follow-up governance structure. This is
one of Pakistans largest infrastructure projects, which is
facing opposition in the country and is held up as an ex-
ample of weak governance in the planning of new infra-
structures in developing countries. (Magsi and Torre,
2014) (see Figure 8).
The Chotiari reservoir project was designed and imple-
mented in order to increase the storage capacity of the
existing lakes in the Chotiari wetlands and enable the irri-
gation of more arable land in Pakistan. The project was
initiated in 1992 by the Water and Power Development
Authority (WAPDA) and was funded by donor agencies
via the World Bank. The project area extends over 18,000
hectares of entitled and unentitled land. The Chotiari res-
ervoir area was characterized as wetlands and included
lakes, forest, swamps, irrigation channels, agricultural
land, barren land and a rich ecosystem, which supported
the livelihoods of the local population through fishing,
agriculture, grazing and a range of other economic activ-
ities. The reservoir project has created opposition between
the principal actors (fishermen, farmers, livestock herders
and others) on the one hand, and stakeholders from the
public administration (national and provincial ministries),
local politicians and landlords on the other. More specific-
ally, a number of factors have made the task of imple-
menting this project more complicated and controversial:
the public administrations highly bureaucratic approaches
and mismanagement of construction and compensation
funds; local politiciansmisuse of position and power with
regard to forced displacements; and local landlordsexer-
cise of power over the local population. Furthermore, op-
position grew when local populations were dispossessed of
their livelihoods and ancestral properties without proper
compensation. In spite of all these issues, the public au-
thorities completed and inaugurated the reservoir in
February 2003, five years later than anticipated.
For this case study we have collected data through
various sources, i.e. DRP, experts' opinion interviews by
an open questionnaire and other sources (available lit-
erature, GIS and internet). The Chotiari project results
reveal that local actors and outside stakeholders are
under opposite aims and objectives of land use, and that
the drivers of this situation (behaviors and interpersonal
relations and actions) lead the project under situations
of superposition of uses. This restlessness among stake-
holders encouraged local journalists to demonstrate their
issues. In fact, more than eighty percent of the articles
(of total published news/articles in DRP since 1997
2011) reflected that there has been significant wrong
doing associated with the land acquisitions, compensa-
tion and resettlement plans. Therefore, the project has
brought on the dynamics of conflicts of land use, which has
not only contributed in the changing of territoriality of the
actors, but also came forth with disruption of socio-spatial
practices. This interference of socio-spatial practices in-
volved a reaction of discontent, which has sometimes
expressed aggressively (Iqbal 2004). Moreover, public au-
thorities have induced social and environmental nuisances
by affecting arable lands, pasture, forest, as well as cruel dis-
placement of local population. Besides all, the increasing
water level in the reservoir is creating seepage
destroying adjacent agricultural lands (see Figure 9).
The multi-dimensional catastrophe of the Chotiari res-
ervoir cannot be understood with a single factor. There-
fore, it is important to visualize and quantify the structural
and proximate factor dynamics with their anticipation,
which have not only escalated conflicts of land use but
also unrest among local population. Therefore, on the
basis of articles published in daily press and opinions
interviewed from experts, we came into effect to disclose
the responsible factors to the conflicts of Chotiari reser-
voir (see Table 1). In this regard we have quantified the
(first judgment)
15% 34%
Resistance to urbanization
and its consequences
Resistance to farm and agri-food facilities,
industrialization and its consequences
Resistance to rural landscape
Figure 7 Conflict in the Greater Paris Region as described in legal cases dealt with by the Administrative Appeal Courts (Versailles and
Paris) and the Council of State (19812005); Darly 2009.
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 20 of 26
factors which appeared in DRP as well as in the expert
opinion interviews. These factors seemed responsible for
either giving favorable path to pre-conditions or conducive
climate to the conflicts.
In the above table we see the differences in the factors
of conflicts highlighted by either source, which may be
due to the technical approaches and scientific analysis of
both sources as well as the public character of DRP data
compared with the privacy of face to face interviews.
Therefore, we disclose the consequences (either positive
or negative) of the project after deep analyzing of DRP as
well as experts' opinion in the study area (see Figure 10).
Figure 8 Location of the Chotiari water reservoir.
Social life
Arable lands
Outside lands
Seepage due to increase in water
level in the reservoir
Phase I (1997–2003)
Social life
Chotiari water reservoir
Chotiari water reservoir
Phase II (2006–date)
Figure 9 Conflict dynamics of Chotiari reservoir.
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 21 of 26
After comparative analysis we found both similarities and
dissimilarities in the data sources, due to privacy or the
public character of their approaches.
Results of this case study present the pattern of
thought based on the expert opinions, daily press and in-
terviews of affected households in the study area which
insights a simple approach towards social representa-
tions in the categories of the actors. Thus it is difficult
to categorize from planning to construction stages of the
project. For example, during policy making process the
actors were involved either from regional to national
level, while some actors involved temporarily and did
not play an active role in the administration. In order to
understand the dynamic process of the project, we have
tried to analyze a relational approach to provide some
answers regarding social representations corresponding
to a universe of interrelated elements. Though, after
deep analyses we have summarized the relations, links
and locations of the actors or stakeholders at different
geographical scales (see Figure 11).
Above figure exposes the network of the actors in-
volved in Chotiari reservoir, with different relations and
behaviors. The results show that those stakeholders have
categorized themselves in defined strategies of construc-
tion and opposition of the reservoir (networks of pros
and cons). Dramatically, the managing and administering
actors (international to national scale) have a different
representation on the reservoir area; they were found in
alliance with the local politicians and landlords (regional
scale), in order to construct the reservoir. According to
the experts the cooperation of local stakeholders with
administrative actors from international to national
scales was based on some hidden interests of corruption
and favoritism, while landlords and politicians have sup-
ported for construction reservoir. In this figure it is also
disclosed that between two pro-construction networks
(initiators and supporters), an administrative loyal net-
work have played a key role to construct the reservoir.
On the other hand, local actors were found in protest-
ation against reservoir construction, relocation and com-
pensation issues (Magsi and Torre, 2012). While, local
population with the support of different NGOs have op-
posed decision of reservoir and manifested to protect
natural resources of precious wetlands of Chotiari. Their
limited scale of support led no valuable results of their
oppositions, protests and agitations, because despite of
this the reservoir has been constructed and inaugurated
on February 2003. Results related to multilevel govern-
ance, we may say that this drama may be played to di-
vert peoples attention that conflicts are at regional scale
only. Moreover, through above figure we have explored
that law enforcement institutions (courts and police) are
peripheral and seem more suppressive rather to have in-
fluence on the administration, in this situation the local
population will surely have no hope of their violated
rights. Through this case study we acquire the information
Table 1 Conflict factors of Chotiari reservoir
Factor types Cause 0073 Percentage
DRP Experts
Structural factors Corruption/misuse of funds 23.94 34.38
Unilateral decision 21.81 21.88
Lack of technical and scientific
19.68 9.38
International interest 7.98 12.50
Non-existence of national
resettlement policy
9.04 9.38
Proximate factors Ethnic diversity and disarray
(unrest among communities)
13.83 12.50
Others (Nepotism, Illiteracy etc.) 3.72 0
highlighted by experts
Consequences highlighted
by daily press
Consequences not
highlighted by daily press
Consequences not
highlighted by experts
Decline in fish catch
Ecological damages
Ethnic conflicts
Seepage /water-logging
Increased cultivation
Property rights
Devaluation of adjacent
Figure 10 Consequences of Chotiari conflict: by daily press, experts and personal observations.
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 22 of 26
on infrastructural development settings without agree-
ment of local stakeholders. In fact, the only way to exam-
ine the institutional inconsistencies and distribution of
dissimilar power, leading to land use conflicts and loss
of local populations resources, is to analyze the dynamics
of actors/stakeholders network in the study area, such as
the reaction of all stakeholders during and after the project
This article has aimed to present the work carried out in
the last few years by a multidisciplinary team on the
question of land use conflicts and to reveal the method-
ology of survey and data collection, as well as the struc-
ture of the resulting database. We have first presented
the scope of our investigations by defining the conflicts
in question, their characteristics, motives, manifestations
and the actors involved. We have then presented our
method of identification of conflicts, based on a diagnosis
of the conflicts that occur in selected areas and on the
combination of various methods of data collection, includ-
ing interviews with experts, analyses of the DRP and of
litigation rulings. Lastly, we have presented the Conflicts ©
database, with its tables and nomenclatures, which recon-
cile the data collected from different sources, before pro-
viding a few examples of how we have used implemented
our method with cases of conflicts occurring in the
Greater Paris Region.
Our studies, performed on the basis of the previous
method, reveal that land use conflicts are characterized by
a high diversity of expression depending on the activities,
on the uses around which they emerge, on the territories
in which they occur, as well as on the characteristics of the
actors involved in the conflicts in question. Furthermore,
some conflicts, which are closely related to certain special-
ized activities, are kept relatively private and may even be
limited to face to face interactions between two private
parties, whereas others, related to decisions concerning a
large number of individuals and involving questions of
land use regulations, are liable to involve the participation
of the public authorities and associations representing part
of the population (for example conflicts related to the def-
inition of local urban development plans or of protected
zones). The quantitative survey, crossing various sources
Ministry of
of Pakistan
International level
National level
Regional level
Provincial level
World Bank
Saudi Fund for
Politicians Courts
Type of relations:
Neutral Allied Supportive Conflict
Interest (hidden) Cooperation Admin. loyalty Opponents
SWMB: Sindh Wildlife Management Board SFD: Sindh Forest Department
SEPA: Sindh Environmental Protection Agency CRA: Chotiari Resettlement Agency
SIDA: Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority EPA: Environmental Protection Agency
WAPDA: Water & Power Development Authority PFF: Pakistan Fisher-folk Forum
SAFWCO: Sindh Agricultural Forestry & Workers Coordination Organization
Figure 11 Networks of local actors in the Chotiari conflict.
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 23 of 26
of information, and the qualitative surveys show that land
use conflicts can take extremely diverse forms of expres-
sion and manifestations, but are however centered on
large categories of conflicts, territories or modes of resist-
ance to undesirable projects. Thus, observing conflictuality
has nothing to do with the mere collection of raw infor-
mation expressing a reality that is easy to decrypt. The
goal of the crossed analysis of various information mate-
rials is precisely to explain the fact that the modes of ex-
pression of conflicts do not just constitute "a source of
information" but a framework of observation that deter-
mine the types of phenomena observed.
Our research into conflicts in rural and periurban areas
shows that this dimension is key in processes of territorial
management, regional development or the governance of
various local activities. Sometimes, conflicts are blind op-
positions or are the product of egoistical Nimby behav-
iours. But in many cases they constitute a way of initiating
discussions on the issues and paths of territorial develop-
ment and of influencing decisions by participating in pro-
cesses underway from which one had been excluded. That
is why they have a bearing, either on the decisions on land
use and management (arbitrated negotiation) or on the
composition and representativeness of the bodies respon-
sible for taking decisions (arbitral negotiation). The con-
flict thus becomes an integral part of the deliberative
process at the local level by allowing an expression of local
democracy and the re-inclusion of participants who were
forgotten or deliberately excluded during earlier project
development stages.
Land-use conflicts thus constitute one form of resistance
and expression of opposition to decisions that leave part of
the local population unsatisfied. Some local innovations,
whether technical or organizational in nature, give rise to
resistance which can turn into conflict. Major changes re-
quiring reconfiguration of the use of space (creation of
transport, energy or waste-processing infrastructure, new
urban master plans, territorial or environmental zoning,
etc.) generate conflicts whose spatial and social extent can
quickly grow. Conflicts are signals of social, technological
and economic changes, indicators of novelty and innova-
tions. They demonstrate the opposition aroused by the lat-
ter, lead to discussions on their implementations and their
possible (non-) acceptability as well as on the adoption of
governance procedures and their transformation under the
influence of the dynamics of change. All changes encounter
opposition or resistance of varying relevance and justifica-
tion. But it would however be simplistic to see this resist-
ance as a systemic sign of reactionary opposition to change
differences over the direction taken by the new initiatives
that are being imposed on the public than of a stubborn
desire to maintain the status quo. During these phases
of conflict, social and interest groups tend to
reconstitute themselves and may even undergo tech-
nical or legal changes. Once a conflict ends, it leaves be-
hind new local agreements, new modes of governance,
technical procedures (changes in direction, various ad-
justments, changes in urban planning documents, etc.),
all arrived at during the negotiations.
Territorial governance processes are today undergoing
intense upheavals and are subject to intense periods of dis-
cussions and conflict oppositions. These latter shape the
phases of territorial innovation and thus change the direc-
tions of development and growth in rural or urban terri-
tories. Such governance mechanisms and their conflict
sides can be viewed as laboratories of change because they
accompany and sometimes anticipate the changes under-
way in the territories by giving them shape, by helping
maintain a dialogue and expressions of opposition and
by preventing violent confrontations or failures of de-
velopment due to sluggishness or expatriation. There-
fore, these changes in land use occupations and the
subsequent oppositions they gave birth to are embodied
in the opposing and twin forms of conflict and consult-
ation which constitute the modes of expression and the
vehicles of transmission of on-going innovations at the
territorial level.
For example, in Pakistan tribunals refused to provide
data on land use conflict related cases because of in-
volvement of bureaucrats, feudal and politicians.
One can associate to each conflict the list of munici-
palities in which are located the sites that are at the cen-
ter of the conflict.
The data contained in the data base are accessible to
the interested readers if they want to contact the authors.
The detailed structure of the data base is also available
(Galman and the participants of Conflict Program 2007)
The Seine Estuary, the Loire Estuary, the Regional
Natural Park of Monts d'Ardèche, the Pays Voironnais
in Isère, the Community of municipalities of Montrevel
en Ain, the Cortenais, and Balagne areas in Corsica, the
Puys mountains in Auvergne, the Réunion island area,
the Greater Paris Region, the Charente catchment area,
Montpellier's coastline, and Arcachon Bay.
They concern, for the most part, the projects of con-
struction of road, highway, railway, river or airport infra-
structures, as well as public facilities such as wastewater
treatment plants, town halls, barracks, prisons, multipur-
pose halls
The organizational management structure has allowed
increasing water level in the reservoir for which purpose
it has been constructed, but due to low standard earth
work there is water seepage from embankments which is
damaging agricultural lands outside the reservoir.
Torre et al. SpringerPlus 2014, 3:85 Page 24 of 26
Competing interests
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
AT inspired and directed the program, and wrote most of the article. RM
greatly participated to the elaboration of the data collection method and to
the data base elaboration, and wrote most of the jurisdictional parts of the
article. HM elaborated the method for developing countries and wrote most
of the developing countries example section (Chotiari, Pakistan). LB
participated to the elaboration of the data collection method and to the
data base elaboration, and performed several case studies. AC participated to
the elaboration of the data collection method and to the data base
elaboration, and performed several case studies. AC participated to the
elaboration of the data collection method and to the data base elaboration,
and performed several case studies. SD participated to the elaboration of the
data collection method and to the data base elaboration, and wrote most of
the developed countries example section (Ile-de-France, France). PhJ
participated to the elaboration of the data collection method and to the
data base elaboration, and performed several case studies. TK inspired and
directed the program, greatly participated to the elaboration of the data
collection method and to the data base elaboration, and performed several
case studies. HVP participated to the elaboration of the data collection
method and to the data base elaboration, and to the statistical study of
litigation issues. OK participated in the elaboration of the method for
developing countries and performed several case studies. All authors read
and approved the final manuscript.
Some published outputs of the research program: Anthopoulou T, Moissidis
A (2002) La périurbanisation dans l'espace rural grec: crise ou adaptation?
Géocarrefour 7(4):359366; Bonin M, Torre A (2004) Typologie de liens à
lespace impliqués dans les conflits dusage, Etude de cas dans les Monts
dArdèche. Les Cahiers de la multifonctionnalité 5:1731; Bossuet L, Torre A
(2009) Le devenir des ruralités, entre conflits et nouvelles alliances autour des
patrimoines locaux. Economie Rurale 313314:147162;; Cadoret A (2006)
Conflits d'usage liés à l'environnement et réseaux sociaux : enjeux d'une
gestion intégrés ? Le cas du littoral du Languedoc-Roussillon. PhD thesis of
Geography. Université de Montpellier 3, France; Caron A, Torre A (2002) Les
conflits dusage dans les espaces ruraux. Une analyse économique. In:
Perrier-Cornet P (ed) A qui appartient lespace rural? Editions de lAube, Paris;
Caron A, Torre A (2006) Vers une analyse des dimensions négatives de la
proximité. In: Les conflits dusage et de voisinage dans les espaces naturels et
ruraux. Développement Durable et Territoires, n°7, online; Darly S (2008a) La
spatialité des conflits d'usage au sein des zones périurbaines en Ile-de-France:
analyse empirique d'une modalité peu connue de la gouvernance des
territoires. Norois 209(4):127146; Darly S (2008b) Tensions et conflits dusage liés
àlagriculture. Géographie de deux corpus dobservation au sein de la région
Ile-de-France. In: Loudiyi S, Bryant CR, Laurens L (ed) Territoires périurbains et
Gouvernance. Perspectives de recherche, Université de Montréal, mai, pp
109117; Darly S (2008c) Conflits d'usage et aires conflictuelles à l'échelle d'une
région métropolitaine. In: Gorgeon C, Laudier I (ed) Le cas des enjeux liés à
l'espace agricole en Ile-de-France. Territoires et identités en mutation,
l'Harmattan, Paris, pp 87106; Darly S, Torre A (2008) Conflits liés aux
espaces agricoles et périmètres de gouvernance en Ile-de-France (résultats à
partir danalyses de la presse quotidienne régionale et denquêtes de terrain).
Geocarrefour 83(4):307319; Jeanneaux P, Perrier-Cornet P (2008) Les conflits
dusage du cadre de vie dans les espaces ruraux et la décision publique locale,
Éléments pour une analyse économique. Economie rurale 306:3954;
Jeanneaux P, Sabau C (2009) Conflits environnementaux et décisions
juridictionnelles : que nous apprend lanalyse du contentieux judiciaire
dans un département français ? VertigO - la revue électronique en
sciences de l'environnement 9:1. URL:;
Kirat T, Melot R (2006) Du réalisme dans lanalyse des conflits dusage: les
enseignements de létude du contentieux. Développement durable et territoire.
Revue numérique; Kirat T, Torre A (ed) (2008) Territoires de Conflits. Analyses
des mutations de loccupation de lespace, lHarmattan, Paris; Kirat T, Torre A
(2007) Quelques points de repères pour évaluer l'analyse des conflits
dans les théories économiques, avec une emphase particulière sur la
question spatiale. Géographie, Economie, Société 9(2):215240; Kirat T, Torre A
(ed) (2006 & 2007) Conflits dusages et dynamiques spatiales les antagonismes
dans loccupation des espaces périurbains et ruraux (I & II). Géographie, Economie,
Société, 8(3) & 9(2); Lefranc C, Torre A (2004) Tensions, conflits et processus de
gouvernance dans les espaces ruraux et périurbains français. In: Scarwell HJ,
Franchomme M (ed) Contraintes environnementales et gouvernance des
territoires. Eds de lAube, p 469; Magsi H (2013) Land use conflicts in developing
countries, framing conflict resolution and prevention strategies to ensure
economic growth and human welfare. The case of Chotiari water reservoir from
Pakistan. PhD thesis of Economics. AgroParisTech, Paris, 209p; Magsi H, Torre A
(2013) Approaches to understand land use conflicts in the developing countries.
The Macrotheme Review 2(1):119136; Paoli J-C, Melot R, Fiori A (2008)
Laménagement du territoire à lépreuve de la décentralisation : conflits et
concertation en Corse et Sardaigne. Pôle Sud: revue de science politique de
l'Europe méditerranéenne 28(1):143165; Torre A (2008) Conflits dusage dans les
espaces ruraux et périurbains. In: Monteventi WL, Deschenaux C, Tranda-Pittion N
(ed) Campagne-ville. Le pas de deux, Presses Polytechniques et Universitaires
Romandes, Lausanne; Torre A, Aznar O, Bonin M, Caron A, Chia E, Galman M,
Guérin M, Jeanneaux P, Kirat T, Lefranc C, Melot R, Paoli JC, Salazar MI, Thinon P
(2006) Conflits et tensions autour des usages de lespace dans les territoires ruraux
et périurbains, Le cas de six zones géographiques françaises. Revue dEconomie
Régionale et Urbaine 3:415453; Torre A, Caron A (2005a) Réflexions sur les
dimensions négatives de la proximité : le cas des conflits dusageetdevoisinage.
Economie et Institutions 6 & 7:183220; Torre A, Caron A (2005b) Conflits dusage
et de voisinage dans les espaces ruraux. In: Torre A, Filippi M (ed) Proximités et
Changements Socio-économiques dans les Mondes Ruraux. INRA éditions, Paris,
p 322; Torre A, Lefranc C (2006) Les Conflits dans les zones rurales et périurbaines,
Premières analyses de la Presse Quotidienne Régionale. Espaces et Sociétés
124125(12):93110; Torre A, Melot M, Bossuet L, Cadoret A, Caron A, Darly S,
Jeanneaux P, Kirat T, Pham HV (2010) Comment évaluer et mesurer la conflictualité
liée aux usages de lespace ? Eléments de méthode et de repérage.
VertigO - la revue électronique en sciences de l'environnement,Vol. 10,
N° 1.
Author details
UMR SAD-APT, INRA AgroParisTech, Paris Saclay University, Paris, France.
Department of Economics, Sindh Agriculture University, Sindh, Pakistan.
UMR Telemme, Aix-Marseille University, Aix-Marseille, France.
UMR Metafort,
AgroParisTech, Clermont Ferrand, France.
University Paris VIII Vincennes
Saint-Denis, Paris, France.
CNRS, University Dauphine, IRISSO, Dauphine,
UMR CESAER, INRA AgroSup, Dijon, France.
Panteion University,
Athens, Greece.
Received: 29 May 2013 Accepted: 30 October 2013
Published: 13 February 2014
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... By consulting local key actors, this study created a cross-sectoral overview of land use conflicts in an urban-rural fringe region that highlights the most frequently perceived kinds of conflicts. Land use conflicts can be identified through various methods, including media analyses, litigation court data, or geographic information system (GIS) analyses, each with their own strengths and weaknesses [52]. Interviews with key actors can detect conflicts that have not been subject to scrutiny in courts or the media [52], and they provide the perspective of those who are immediately involved. ...
... Land use conflicts can be identified through various methods, including media analyses, litigation court data, or geographic information system (GIS) analyses, each with their own strengths and weaknesses [52]. Interviews with key actors can detect conflicts that have not been subject to scrutiny in courts or the media [52], and they provide the perspective of those who are immediately involved. As land use conflicts significantly impact the interactions of people in rural areas, monitoring these conflicts is an important component of regional development. ...
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COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a number of fundamental changes (shifts) in the global tourism market, one of most important being increased demand for different tourism activities in the rural areas. Consequently, rural areas are under increased pressure induced by growing tourism demand, and it is becoming more important to measure long term sustainability of tourism products being developed in order to preserve protected areas, as the most sensitive elements of rural areas. Within the DestiMED PLUS (Interreg MED) project, one of the main goals is to promote integrated coastal tourism planning in which regional policy makers will implement holistic policies that link tourism with conservation in practice. Simplified, through synergy and capacity building of local stakeholders, an ecotourism market-ready product has been developed, based on evaluation through given sets of indicators, which enable the improvement of the package itself. As part of the development of the package, as many as two impartial audits and two tests were conducted, during which indicators in the field of environmental sustainability, socio-economic sustainability, management, and conservation were continuously collected. In Croatia, the NATURA 2000 area of Cres-Lošinj (Marine Area) was selected as a pilot area. The project identified the need to strengthen governance frameworks in Croatia, but also throughout the Mediterranean, with an emphasis on strengthening the capacity of NATURA 2000 protected areas to make eco-tourism based on a local approach a success. This can be achieved by strengthening cross-sectoral local and regional policies, providing integrated planning strategies (tourism and conservation) and providing stakeholders with effective training and tools for managing, measuring and promoting ecotourism
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gorski kotar proved to be a very rural, accessible and safe tourist destination with a diverse offer due to its strong natural and anthropogenic spatial characteristics, good transport connections and low level of tourist exploitation. Given that Gorski kotar quickly adapted to the challenges, the question arises whether Gorski kotar has a tradition of tourism, or whether it is a new or old tourist destination? To determine whether Gorski kotar has a tradition of managing rural tourism, the history of tourist organizations, tourist traffic, accommodation, offer and methods of promotion from the very beginning of modern tourism to 1991 were researched. From that analysis, a synthesis of guidelines and activities that would ensure long- term and sustainable tourism development are proposed. The research is based on the collection and analysis of statistical data, legal regulations, tourist travelogues / books, guides, brochures, posters, advertisements, postcards and promotional materials). Based on various data collected from archives, libraries, museums, tourist boards and private collections and using desk research, time slice and inductive- deductive methods, the paper concludes that Gorski kotar has a tradition of rural tourism (winter and summer), offering various tourist products and promotion channels that can serve as a basis for designing new visions of development.
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In the Colombian context, disputes over natural resources, mainly over land, and poor gov-ernance are intertwined with armed conflict. Although efforts to address this situation, including the 2016 peace agreement signed between Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, by Spanish acronym) are underway, these disputes continue, affecting land use dynamics. Understanding the complexity and trends in land use conflicts, as well as the specific regional characteristics underlying differing land use changes across regions, is critical. This article aims to systematically understand land use dynamics in two contrasting and conflict-affected territories in Colombia, Caquetá and Cesar, thus identifying entry points to address land-use conflicts at the regional level. To address the complexity of each regional case, we apply a methodology based on system thinking to capture the interconnections between socioeconomic and environmental system components and their land use dynamics. Results depicted through causal loop diagrams not just show the cascade of environmental, social, and economic failures resulting from land use changes in these two conflict-affected territories but also suggest that land tenure systems innovations and the promotion of sustainable land use interventions at the regional level can reverse the consequences of the land use changes. Thus, future actions addressing land use conflicts must be context-dependent, tackling the root and structural causes.
One of the main factors preventing food production in urban and peri‐urban areas is territorial oppositions between different land uses. The aim of this article is to address the question of conflicts close to large urban centers, taking the example of the São Paulo Metropolitan Region (SPMR), a representative urban area, which includes both food issues of the cities: the still important presence of a subsistence agriculture that serves to feed the local people, and the development of a much‐gentrified urban agriculture. Our study is based on expert interviews, an analysis of the regional daily press and a study of local information sites and blogs. First, we briefly depict peri‐urban agriculture, its main characteristics, and we stress the importance of land use occupation faced with competing uses. Then we present our method of analysis and the main agricultural characteristics of the SPMR. The third part is devoted to a study of the local conflicts, their location, their link to agriculture and the consumption of agricultural soils, and the typology of the opponents and supporters of this activity. We finally conclude with some lessons on the place of peri‐urban agriculture, drawn from this experiment. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Public arbitration of legitimate environmental interests : the example of [french] laws on mountains and coasts. Pierre Lascoumes. The problems raised by the implementation of the Mountain law (9 January 1985) and the Coastal law (3 January 1986) show the role of legal standards in environmental policies. They organize the reconciliation of three major categories of legitimate interests : economic and social development, regional planning, and environmental protection. Law operates in very flexible ways which distribute paths of action open to all the actors involved. It has a modest role in behavior moderation, participating together with other economic and social factors in its orientation, but not in its management. Public intervention often limits itself to articulating the legitimate interests which must be protected without setting criteria for ranking them precisely and determining each one's due. The regulation procedures designed to reconcile interests in each case remain open to the activity of the local actors and their balance of power. Regulatory action thus appears ambiguous in its objectives and its means ; it rarely deserves criticism as unilateral command. Only a sociology of its forms of mobilization makes it possible to understand what it authorizes.
Ho-Won Jeong is Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University (USA). He served as a founding convener of the Global Political Economy Commission of the International Peace Research Association. He is also a founding editor of Peace and Conflict Studies and International Journal of Peace Studies. Dr. Jeong has been consultant and reviewer for various international agencies, including the European Commission and the US Institute of Peace. His books include Understanding Conflict and Conflict Analysis (2008), Peacebuilding in Postconflict Societies (2005), Globalization and the Physical Environment (2005), Approaches to Peacebuilding (2002), Global Environmental Policy Making: Institutions and Procedures (2001), Peace and Conflict Studies (2000), Conflict Resolution (1999) and The New Agendas for Peace Research (1999).
Conflict Management and Resolution provides students with an overview of the main theories of conflict management and conflict resolution, and will equip them to respond to the complex phenomena of international conflict. The book covers these four key concepts in detail: negotiationmediation. facilitation. reconciliation. It examines how to prevent, manage and eventually resolve various types of conflict that originate from inter-state and inter-group competition, and expands the existing scope of conflict management and resolution theories by examining emerging theories on the identity, power and structural dimensions of adversarial relationships. The volume is designed to enhance our understanding of effective response strategies to conflict in multiple social settings as well as violent struggles, and utilizes numerous case studies, both past and current. These include the Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons programmes, the war in Lebanon, the Arab-Israeli conflict, civil wars in Africa, and ethnic conflicts in Europe and Asia. This book will be essential reading for all students of conflict management and resolution, mediation, peacekeeping, peace and conflict studies and International Relations in general.