Public participation in decision-making on conservation translocations: the importance and limitations of a legislative framework

L.G. Klein, K.A.J. Arts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Conservation translocations are a frequently used management tool applied by nature conservationists. Many conservation translocations have a low success rate, which is caused by various biological and societal factors. While conservation translocations are often set in human-dominated landscapes, they tend to be poorly embedded in social-ecological systems. Indeed, the primacy of biological aspects in translocation processes seems to undercut attention for societal dimensions. A key societal dimension is public participation. In this article, we identified and analyzed processes that affect the implementation of public participation. In addition, we considered whether, and under which circumstances, a legislative framework enables meaningful public participation. We used a Policy Arrangement Approach to grasp the processes at play. Sixteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with key-actors involved in the design and planning of conservation translocations in Scotland. Interviewees argued that inclusive decision-making was either unintentionally or deliberately neglected. Underlying causes related to regularly witnessed barriers such as traditional expert-driven approaches, entrenched power relations, and uncertainties on how to deliver open and inclusive public participation practices. Moreover, there was a mismatch between conservationists' expectations on how public participation should be implemented and recognized fundamentals of public participation, e.g. transparency and dialogue. The results demonstrate that while a legislative framework raises awareness and provides guidance, it is unable to take away current barriers. Due to the uncertainties around democratic decision-making, it is unrealistic to expect that a mere legislative framework alone would solve current challenges. Yet, conversely the absence of one may increase current challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13505
JournalRestoration Ecology
Volume30
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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