Mediation and conservation conflicts: From top-down to bottom-up

Reed, M.S. and Ceno, J.S.D. (2015) Mediation and conservation conflicts: From top-down to bottom-up. In: Conflicts in Conservation: Navigating Towards Solutions. Cambridge University Press, pp. 226-239. ISBN 9781139084574 (ISBN); 9781107017696 (ISBN)

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Conservation conflicts tend to be highly complex, feed on uncertainty and affect people and organisations at different scales (Chapter 15). Traditionally, resolving these conflicts has been a ‘top-down’ process, led by governments and their official representatives, supported by scientifically trained specialists, with those affected by the conflict often relegated to the role of data-gatherers and passive recipients of information and instructions. These top-down conflict resolution processes typically seek the ‘right’ answer, as determined by national politics, laws or academic opinions. They are often framed in Western discourses about the intrinsic value of nature, over-riding older, more utilitarian values as ‘backward’ and ‘damaging’ (Zammit-Lucia, 2011). However, rather than resolve conflict, these top-down approaches have often inflamed conflict – for example, prompting violent protest or resettlement of protected areas by evicted communities (Brockington and Igoe, 2006). In contrast to this, it has been claimed that more bottom-up, participatory approaches to controversial conservation issues have the capacity to avoid, cope with or resolve conflicts. Bottom-up approaches to resolving conservation conflicts, it is argued, have the capacity to build trust and facilitate learning among stakeholders, who are then more likely to support project goals and implement decisions in the long term (Beierle, 2002; Reed, 2008). However, there are also many critics of bottom-up approaches to conservation conflicts. For example, problems with stakeholder representation or participatory process design mean processes fail to achieve their goals or exacerbate conflict (Stringer et al., 2007; Scott, 2011). As such, it has started to be recognised that the outputs (e.g. strategies, plans or other agreements) and ultimate outcomes (e.g. social learning, network forming, preference change, implementation of solutions) of bottom-up approaches to conservation conflicts are highly dependent on the selection of participants, the process design and the context in which they are conducted (de Vente et al., in press). Top-down and bottom-up approaches represent two opposite extremes, and in reality elements of both approaches are often combined successfully. © British Ecological Society 2015.

Item Type: Book Section
Identification Number:
Date: 2015
Subjects: K900 Others in Architecture, Building and Planning
Divisions: REF UoA Output Collections > REF2021 UoA13: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment > School of Engineering and the Built Environment
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment > School of Engineering and the Built Environment > Resilient Environments
Depositing User: Yasser Nawaz
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2016 09:24
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2016 09:24

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