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  • 1.
    Eckerberg, Katarina
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Bjärstig, Therese
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Miljand, Matilda
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Mancheva, Irina
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Devolving power from the state: Local initiatives for nature protection and recreation in Sweden2020In: Local Environment: the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, ISSN 1354-9839, E-ISSN 1469-6711, article id 10.1080/13549839.2020.1760226Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Quests for devolving more power to local actors for nature protection stem from both international and national policies. Also, there is a growing recognition of the need for local governments to promote green infrastructure for citizens to recreate and learn about their environment. Starting in 2004, the Swedish government has allocated special funding towards these goals through the Local Nature Conservation Programme (LONA). Virtually all Swedish municipalities have received such funding in pursuit of facilitating wide access to nature and promoting recreational activities, including the protection of nature areas, creating pathways, information devices, and promoting these areas among new societal groups to enjoy. This study presents the results of ten years of experience with LONA. A survey with respondents from 191 municipalities and 20 county administrations, together with 20 key informant interviews, show that the programme has been a success in several respects. Not only have most municipalities created a wealth of new ways to engage local organisations and citizens in nature conservation and recreation, but they have also broadened the ways they think about how nature is important to their constituencies. Due to innovative ways to count voluntary work as local matching of funding, smaller and less resourceful municipalities have also become engaged. Still, the local needs for further initiatives are deemed considerable. State support coupled with knowledge sharing is important to show policy priority to such bottom-up initiatives.

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  • 2.
    Eckerberg, Katarina
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Bjärstig, Therese
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Miljand, Matilda
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Mancheva, Irina
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Tio års erfarenheter med LONA – lokala naturvårdssatsningen: Intresse, deltagande och lärande inom naturvård och friluftsliv2017Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The Local Nature Conservation Programme (LONA) was initiated by the Swedish government in 2004 and has now been ongoing more than ten years. The great majority of Swedish municipalities have applied for and received funding for LONA projects. A total of 300 MSEK was allocated to 1 530 projects in 260 municipalities plus at least as much in local funding. After a short break, LONA was taken up again in 2010-2016 with 237 MSEK national funding to 1 524 projects (4 505 measures) in 260 municipalities.

    LONA is the largest national investment to achieve greater participation and increased local engagement with nature conservation and recreation, and fulfils the intention of international agreements such as the Convention of Biological Diversity and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability 2010. LONA’s main objective, to involve a greater range of local actors in conservation efforts, is fulfilled since more than half of the municipalities have done so in their LONA projects. The overall aim with this study is to evaluate more specifically in what ways and how LONA has contributed to local responsibility for nature conservation and recreation measures. The study takes departure in previous commissioned studies by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (reports 5923, 6392, 5605, 6397 and 5811, see references). The results below build on a survey sent out in autumn 2016 to all 290 municipalities (191 responded) and 21 county administrations (20 responded), plus in-depth interviews with key informants from three county administrations, six municipalities and two nongovernmental organisations engaged in LONA. Some interviews were also made in mountain municipalities.

    The specific measures carried in the LONA projects connect to most of the Swedish Environmental Quality Objectives, dominated by ‘A Rich Diversity of Plant and Animal Life’ and ‘A Good Built Environment’. Most measures are relatively minor, with a typical median budget of about 56.000 SEK including the 50% own contribution. About one third of the projects involve non-governmental organisations, which has been made possible since voluntary work is accounted for in the budget as own contribution. The size of the LONA projects as well as the share of voluntary organizations involved has been rather stable over the years.

    The majority of LONA projects concern various types of inventories, information dissemination and knowledge production, while about one third are about ecological restoration, conservation and management. During the 2010-2016 period, which this study focuses on – and despite the growing policy attention to social, cultural and recreational values – the share of measures geared towards nature conservation values has increased. Measures to protect cultural values and set aside nature areas are only a small share. More than half of the LONA projects are located in the urban fringe, which is in line with the government’s ambitions, but even smaller municipalities in rural areas have acquired substantial LONA funding. The majority of LONA projects are led by a municipality, while the remainder are led in cooperation between a municipality and a local organisation and fewer by such an organisation alone. There is very little variation in the nature of LONA projects depending on leadership. Even if all counties have municipalities with LONA projects, three of them are the most active: Skåne in the south, Västra Götaland in the south-west, and Stockholm County.

    The funding LONA provides is very much appreciated among the municipalities. Eight out of ten municipalities say that the LONA aims are fully in line with the local needs for nature conservation, and seven out of ten claim that this is the case for recreation needs. Many of the large municipalities think that while LONA is a welcome contribution, it is still not a requirement for the municipality’s work for nature conservation and recreation. However, in many small-size municipalities the LONA funding is essential. The allocation of funding from LONA is also larger per inhabitant in small-size municipalities compared to large-size, which reflects such needs.

    In the majority of municipalities, LONA funding makes up an important share of the local budget for nature protection, while it is somewhat lower for recreational purposes. Interestingly, LONA has particularly supported measures for nature protection and recreation in those municipalities with an assigned municipal ecologist, suggesting that when they exist, they have a facilitating role. The LONA funding allows for the same project to benefit from other funding as well, such as EU Life and the Rural Development Programme, as long as specific measures are funded separately. This possibility creates an added value of the LONA programme. The simplicity of the application procedure in LONA compared to EU funding is stressed as an advantage by the majority of municipalities.

    The results show that LONA has led to increased and widened participation by local actors in nature protection and recreation. At the same time, the nature of such participation differs depending on the municipality size. Small-size municipalities with less resources tend to more often include external actors in the LONA projects, while large-size municipalities can mobilise the necessary resources themselves. Some of the latter municipalities therefore choose not to involve external actors. Our results further suggest that the involvement of non-governmental organisations seems to depend rather on different modes of working than on the requirements of the LONA regulation. Still, the regulation has restricted the involvement of private companies due to remaining question marks over how profit-making companies may lead and implement LONA projects.

    Municipally employed ecologists, particularly in large-size municipalities, provide the most leadership in the LONA work, followed by other municipal officers and environment- and recreation-oriented non-governmental organisations. Nongovernmental organisations tend to initiate and engage in the work to a greater extent in small-size municipalities. There are already established networks within the field of nature conservancy, while, according to the respondents, new networks for the initiation and implementation of LONA projects are created in the field of recreation. The importance of coordination between municipalities through the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions is emphasised by several municipalities in this respect. A general trend is that such coordination and exchange of experiences has increased over time. The municipalities’ contacts with various local networks have also amplified.

    The perceived need for protecting more areas in urban environments continues to be high, and LONA is seen as an important tool for long-term investment in the protection of nature and recreation values. LONA is regarded as especially important for recreation since there are alternative forms of support in nature conservation at the national level. The small-size municipalities are particularly dependent on LONA in their attempts to safeguard nature protection and recreation values. Many new areas have become accessible for local citizens thanks to LONA, some of which have become popular sites for nature studies, recreation and leisure. Media attention has helped increase their popularity, and assisted in giving high priority to these issues on the municipal political agenda.

    LONA has led to learning among local actors, particularly with regard to nature conservation issues. Information gathered through LONA has spurred the development of plans for nature conservation and recreation in many municipalities, which on its part supports long-term thinking. Further, LONA has contributed to the initiation of Nature Schools and pedagogic tools for learning about nature in many pre-schools, which helps children in their understanding of and respect for nature. The effects of LONA in a long-term perspective is still, however, somewhat complex. For example, it appears that the local interest in establishing new protected areas has not generally increased, and only one-third of the municipalities claim that accessibility in existing protected areas has increased as a result of LONA. Likewise, in particularly small-size municipalities with limited resources, there is a risk that continued long-term management of nature protection and recreation does not materialize. One should keep in mind that most LONA projects are rather modest in size and that support from the LONA programme cannot solve all issues of municipal priority-setting.

    At the same time, the results both from the survey and interviews suggest that LONA has generally had a positive effect on the interest for nature protection and recreation among local politicians and, even more so, among local citizens. This has in turn led to increased local resources for nature protection, albeit somewhat less so for recreation values. The growing attention given to these values has also led to better integration of nature protection and recreation in the municipalities’ spatial planning. In addition, the use of nature areas in the urban vicinity has increased due to more local investments in projects connected to learning. Finally, LONA has stimulated projects and measures targeting ‘new Swedes’ – and even if still only a minority of municipalities have used LONA for this purpose, there is great likelihood that more municipalities will do so in the near future.

    The policy statements in LONA highly emphasize learning, knowledge development and knowledge exchange. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the county administrations have contributed to those goals by various information gathering and communication efforts, including mentoring and networking. Our evaluation of how those methods have worked in practice shows that the respondents greatly appreciate the support given, and that the municipalities have been able to access a wealth of information about previous LONA projects, best cases, relevant expertise and arenas for knowledge exchange. The different methods for mentoring are complementary, with different target groups. On the whole, both the county administration officers responsible for LONA and the municipal LONA officers are satisfied with the ways in which the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has implemented these different methods. They also believe that the methods have been supportive in creating increased participation, local understanding and knowledge for what LONA can and should achieve, and hence that LONA should be considered a success.

  • 3.
    Mahler Hasselquist, Eliza
    et al.
    Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Umeå, Sweden.
    Mancheva, Irina
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Eckerberg, Katarina
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Laudon, Hjalmar
    Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Umeå, Sweden.
    Policy change implications for forest water protection in Sweden over the last 50 years2019In: Ambio, ISSN 0044-7447, E-ISSN 1654-7209Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Improving water quality has become an important environmental issue, spurred in part by the Water Framework Directive. However, the relationship of policy change with forest water protection measures is relatively unknown. We analyzed how policy and practice have developed in Sweden using 50 years of historic data from the Krycklan Catchment Study, ocusing on riparian buffers. Corresponding to legislation, education and voluntary measures mphasizing stream protection, two step changes occurred; between the 1970s–1980s, buffers increased by 67%, then by 100% between 1990s and 2000s. By 2013, just 50% of the stream length affected by forestry was protected and the application has varied by stream size; small streams lacked a buffer approximately 65% of the time, while 90% of large streams had buffers. The doubling of buffer implementation from the 1990s–2000s corresponded to the adoption of a number of environmental protection policies in the 1990s that all came into effect during this period.

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  • 4.
    Mancheva, Irina
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Complement or competition in water governance?: Analysing two collaborative water management arrangements in one river basin2020In: Water Policy, ISSN 1366-7017, E-ISSN 1996-9759, Vol. 22, no 1, p. 1-18Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study aims at advancing collaborative governance theory by investigating the interaction between two different collaborative arrangements within the same forested area of high ecological and social value in the Vindel River basin. Semi-structured interviews, policy documents and observations of board meetings were analysed based on analytical typologies of collaborative arrangements to answer the following questions: which factors can explain why a new collaborative arrangement was established within an area where one already existed? In what way do the two arrangements compete with or complement each other? And, to what extent do they address the effects of forestry on water? The analysis shows that a new collaborative arrangement was formed because the existing arrangement did not materialise certain stakeholders' expectations. Moreover, the two collaborative arrangements do not compete but rather complement each other. The newly established organisational/action collaborative arrangement presented those stakeholders most interested in on-the-ground action with the appropriate venue while freeing them from the organisational/policy arrangement that did not match their aims. However, both arrangements experienced power misbalances as certain stakeholders were perceived as having more influence on their agenda. Collaboration at this local-regional level was found to focus on limited problems with concrete and feasible solutions, such as fish migration, rather than on the complex problems with solutions marked by ecological uncertainty and power asymmetries, e.g. diffuse pollution from forestry.

  • 5.
    Mancheva, Irina
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Forest water governance: challenges in cross-sectoral and multi-level collaboration2020Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Forests and water are highly interconnected with forestry practices negatively affecting forest water. In the last five decades, the Swedish state has enacted multiple policy changes and allocated significant resources towards the implementation of soft policy instruments to alleviate the effects on forest water. The European Union Water Framework Directive has further raised the legal requirements for water protection, including within the forest sector. However, these efforts have largely failed thus far. Forests and water are governed by two separate sectors, each with its own polycentric governance system and policy goals that are often conflicting. The governance mode of these systems is determined by a unique combination of policy instruments and a varying degree of centralisation depending on state involvement. Since governing forest water requires collaboration between the forest and water sector governance systems, it entails interplay between the two systems on different ecological scales. The aim of this thesis is to explore and explain the challenges related to the governance of a resource that requires cross-sectoral multi-level governance and to examine the role of the state in those interactions. The thesis includes a mix of quantitative (survey and aerial photographs) and qualitative (interviews, analysis of documents and meeting observations) research methods for investigating forest water governance across national, regional and local levels. Empirically, it involves four case studies analysing units embedded in the larger case – namely cross-sectoral governance of forest water.

    The results show that within the current structure of Swedish forest water governance there is minimal cross-sectoral collaboration, with an exception being at the national level. Regional and local implementation of the outputs produced at national level relies mainly on the forest sector, with little to no coordination with water sector institutions at the regional district or river basin levels. Moreover, power asymmetries between the two sectors are transposed to the collaborative process which affects participants’ capacity to influence the governance of forest water. Since the studied cases show that most of the financial resources for forest water protection are provided top-down, the role of the state in initiating and maintaining collaboration is crucial. The thesis confirms previous research findings that water governance requires a more centralised polycentric governance system. Combining polycentric governance (including at the river basin scale) with centralised state-coordination is a potential solution to problems that require cross-sectoral and multi-level governance interplay. Further inquiry into cross-sectoral governance of natural resources could develop a better understanding of how coordination in polycentric governance systems at different ecological scales could be structured to mitigate policy goal conflicts across sectors and institutional levels, thus fostering more effective governance.

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  • 6.
    Mancheva, Irina
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    The role of legitimacy in the implementation of outputs from collaborative processes: The Swedish National Dialogue for Nature Consideration in ForestryManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
  • 7.
    Mancheva, Irina
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
    Which factors spur forest owners' collaboration over forest waters?2018In: Forest Policy and Economics, ISSN 1389-9341, E-ISSN 1872-7050, Vol. 91, p. 54-63Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Collaborative river basin governance has been advocated both by research and legislation, while at the same time certain silvicultural practices are shown to lead to deteriorating water quality. In order for collaboration to be initiated, however, the majority of key stakeholders must be willing to participate. This paper investigates which factors at the local level are crucial for initiating collaboration over forest waters among individual private forest owners. For that purpose, a survey was sent out to all individual forest owners within a catchment area in northern Sweden. The survey was complemented by a qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews. The existence of several key preconditions for the initiation of collaboration was investigated, namely: low belief and cultural heterogeneity, information diffusion, perception of the problem, existing stores of social capital, interdependence, and leadership. The results show that although the context was one of low belief and cultural heterogeneity, individual private forest owners are not interested in collaborating for improved forest water unless they perceive the issue of water quality important enough to invest resources in collaboration. It also became clear that the diffusion of information about the problem is not reaching those stakeholders who are crucial for the commencement of collaboration. Moreover, those stakeholders do not recognise their interdependence on each other for resolving the issue and therefore the need for collaboration. Finally, initiating leadership was also found to be lacking, leading to the conclusion that to successfully implement policies requiring collaborative management of natural resources among highly empowered individual forest owners, those missing factors need to be addressed by the state.

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