Niedziałkowski, Krzysztof, Ewa Komar, Agata Pietrzyk-Kaszyńska, Agnieszka Olszańska, & Małgorzata Grodzińska-Jurczak (2018, March). Discourses on public participation in protected areas governance: Application of Q methodology in Poland. Ecological Economics, 145, 401-409.

Abstract: Effective public participation in decision-making concerning protected areas requires supportive legal provisions, practices and narratives. While there has been a wide interest in organisational aspects of participation in protected areas, discursive questions concerning the attitudes toward participation among stakeholders have received relatively little attention. Using Q methodology, we investigated attitudes of 53 respondents, representing key stakeholder groups (local communities, NGOs, scientists, protected area staff, foresters, public officials, general public), toward the involvement of local communities in managing various forms of biodiversity conservation in Poland. We found three main discourses: (1) positive toward participation and recognizing the conservation and development goals of protected areas; (2) sceptical toward participation and nature-centred; and (3) cautiously open to participation and developmental goals of protected areas but highlighting organisational difficulties. There were diverse attitudes toward participation within stakeholder groups signaling potential for compromise among them. All three discourses opt for a mixed model of governance balancing central and local influence, which diverges from traditional centralized practices. They differ over barriers to participation, highlighting either insufficient capacity of administration or lack of knowledge and interests of local people. These differences indicate wider socio-political tensions that should be acknowledged during participation.

Krzysztof Niedziałkowski <> is in the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warszawa, Poland, and the Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland.

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