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Reconsidering the Effectiveness of Scientific Tools for Negotiating Local Solutions to Conflicts between Recreation and Conservation with Stakeholders

Rogier Pouwels, Wageningen University & Research Centre
Paul Opdam, Wageningen University & Research Centre
René Jochem, Wageningen University & Research Centre


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The conflict between the conservation of biodiversity and recreation activities in the European landscape is intensifying. Managers of large nature areas are confronted with increasing numbers of visitors and decreasing biodiversity values. To accommodate the visitors while simultaneously protecting the biodiversity values they need to make changes in the landscape. Current legislation, a lack of knowledge on the recreation–biodiversity relationship, and the diverging point of view of stakeholders make it difficult to find consensual solutions. New approaches such as adaptive management and boundary management can help managers and stakeholders in the process of decision making. In these approaches the role of scientists has changed, as has the use of their tools. Using two research projects in Europe we explore how scientific tools are used in this new context. We argue that such tools (1) should be built on the interactions between recreation and biodiversity functions, (2) can be used interactively to encourage stakeholders to engage in a learning process, (3) allow local knowledge and data to be incorporated into them, and (4) generate output in the form of a map showing where the conflict areas and opportunities are located. These four key features will help managers to improve communication between themselves, stakeholders, and scientists, increase consensus between stakeholders on how the conflict should be perceived, explore solutions, and generate new knowledge. For future research we suggest investigating how adaptive management and boundary management can be used in a stepwise learning strategy and how uncertainties in the tools affect the learning process.

Key words

adaptive management; biodiversity; boundary management; integrated tools; learning; local data; recreation; spatially explicit; stakeholders; tools; visualization

Copyright © 2011 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087