The 'green' and 'self' in green self-governance - a study of 264 green space initiatives by citizens

T.J.M. Mattijssen*, A.E. Buijs, B.H.M. Elands, B.J.M. Arts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Scholars observe an increased involvement of citizens in green space governance. This paper focuses on green self-governance, in which citizens play a major role in realizing, protecting and/or managing green space. While existing research on green selfgovernance focuses mostly on specific cases, we aim to contribute towards a large overview via an inventory of 264 green self-governance practices across The Netherlands. With this, we discuss the relevance of green self-governance for nature conservation and its relationship with authorities. In our analysis, we show that green self-governance practices are very diverse: they pursue a wide variety of physical and social objectives; employ a multitude of physical and political activities; involve different actors besides citizens; mobilize different internal and external funding sources; and are active within and outside of protected areas. While green selfgovernance can contribute towards protection and management of green space and towards social values, we highlight that this contribution is mostly of a local relevance. Most practices are small scale and objectives do not always match those of authorities. Although we speak of self-governance, authorities play an important role in many practices, for example, as financial donor, landowner or regulatory authority. In this, self-governance is often not completely ‘self’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-113
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Issue number1
Early online date29 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


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