umu.sePublications
Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
What should we do with the threatened species?: Discourses, institutions and the Swedish action plan to save the white-backed woodpecker
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This article examines a drawn-out conflict surrounding an update of the Action Plan for the threatened white-backed woodpecker (dendrocopos leucotos) in Sweden and, more broadly, around intervention in nature and the ends and means of conservation. The case illustrates the importance of struggles around discourse institutionalization in understanding stability, contestation and change within a policy subsystem. The article also makes a theoretical argument concerning both the effects of discourse institutionalization — using the terms durability, legibility and leverage to capture the structuring effect of institutions — and the processes of negotiation, re-interpretation and modification of institutions which, it is argued, tend to be underplayed in accounts of discourse institutionalization. The case highlights how discursive dominance (in this case: of an interventionist discourse focused on adaptive management for biodiversity) does not necessarily translate into discourse institutionalization; instead, a preservationist discourse generally seen as outdated seems to have become more institutionalized as a result of the struggles over the last years.

National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
statskunskap
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-128924OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-128924DiVA: diva2:1057925
Projects
Ecosystem restoration in policy and practice: restore, develop, adapt (RESTORE)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2009-196-14225-69
Available from: 2016-12-19 Created: 2016-12-19 Last updated: 2016-12-20
In thesis
1. To do or not to do: dealing with the dilemma of intervention in Swedish nature conservation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>To do or not to do: dealing with the dilemma of intervention in Swedish nature conservation
2016 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Nature conservation is often seen as being primarily about shielding parts of nature from human intervention, e.g. by protecting areas. Over the last decades, however, intervention is increasingly being seen as necessary for nature to regain or retain its values, through ecological restoration and active management. This complicates simple assumptions that ‘nature knows best’ and raises dilemmas which are hotly debated in the scholarly literature around ecological restoration, protected area management, environmental ethics and green political theory. However, how these dilemmas are dealt with in actual policy struggles among the conservation professionals who make management decisions is less studied.

This thesis explores how issues regarding active intervention in nature are represented, debated and institutionalized within Swedish nature conservation, and to what effect. The empirical focus lies on policy struggles around the designation and management of protected forests and around efforts to save a nationally threatened bird species, the white-backed woodpecker. My analytical framework is informed by Argumentative Discourse Analysis and Political Discourse Theory, to which I contribute a further elaboration of the notion of discourse institutionalization. Based on documents and interviews with conservation professionals, I identify competing articulations of the ends and means of conservation and relate these to scholarly debates around ecological restoration and interventionist conservation management. The analysis further focuses on how elements of the different policy discourses are institutionalized in rules, routines or official policy documents.

Two main competing policy discourses are found: one focused on leaving pristine nature to develop freely, and one focused on active, adaptive management for biodiversity. While the former has previously been said to characterize the Swedish conservation bureaucracy, my analysis shows it is now widely seen as outdated. Arguments which in the scholarly literature are associated with an ethically informed defense of nature’s autonomy are here dismissed as emotional, aesthetic and thus unscientific concerns, delegitimizing them within the rational, science-based public administration for nature conservation. In contrast, biodiversity is broadly forwarded as a self-evident goal for active intervention, in line with both science and policy requirements. Adaptive management for biodiversity is in that sense the dominant discourse. Still, the older discourse is institutionalized in the purposes and management plans of existing nature reserves, and its defenders have also succeeded in strengthening that institutionalization through new and more restrictive guidelines. The findings suggest that this has been possible not only because of the gate-keeping role of a few centrally placed actors, but also because their restrictive stance resonates with the outside threat of exploitation which organizes the common order of discourse. Naturalness, a term described as irrelevant by some proponents of adaptive management for biodiversity, is also shown to remain a shared concern in several ways. The results thus highlight the importance of both entrenched common sense and institutionalization of certain logics or arguments in authoritative documents. The main theoretical contribution of the thesis consists in clarifying the effects of such discourse institutionalization — using the terms durability, legibility and leverage — and showing how the processes of negotiation, re-interpretation and modification of institutions are more dynamic than some accounts of discourse institutionalization suggest.

Rather than trying to resolve (and thus remove) the dilemma of intervention, the thesis points to the importance of keeping open discussion of the ultimately unanswerable questions about intervention in nature alive in both theory and practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2016. 61 p.
Series
Statsvetenskapliga institutionens skriftserie, ISSN 0349-0831 ; 2016:5
Keyword
Protected area management, nature conservation, ecological restoration, biological diversity, discourse, institutionalization, forests, white-backed woodpecker, policy struggle, nature values
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
statskunskap
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-128925 (URN)978-91-7601-633-6 (ISBN)
Presentation
2017-01-13, Samhällsvetarhuset, S312, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Ecosystem restoration in policy and practice: restore, develop, adapt (RESTORE)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2009-196-14225-69
Available from: 2016-12-23 Created: 2016-12-19 Last updated: 2016-12-23Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Sturk Steinwall, Anders
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar

Total: 10 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf