THE ART OF NEOLIBERALIZING PARK MANAGEMENT: COMMODIFICATION, POLITICS AND HOTEL CONSTRUCTION IN PALLASYLLÄSTUNTURI NATIONAL PARK, FINLAND
Following the growth of nature‐based tourism, national parks and other protected areas have become important tourist attractions. This article examines the legislative process of revising the Act on Pallas‐Yllästunturi National Park, located in northern Finland, to enable the renovation and enlargement of the old hotel. The first draft of the government bill published in 2008 led to widespread public opposition, and thus, construction rights were reduced substantially before the new Act was passed in 2010. The main question of this article is why the Finnish government changed its policy on national park governance that had existed for decades. We assess the extent to which the changes in park governance can be interpreted as part of the worldwide neoliberalization of nature, as well as what kind of forces and values work against neoliberal management ideologies. We examine how the process of revising the Act proceeded in the Parliament and analyse on what grounds the hotel construction was defended and opposed in the discussions. Finally we ponder how the political disagreements are explained by neoliberal frames. We conclude that the neoliberal element was one part of the process, but it intertwined with local political reality creating results hardly resembling textbook definitions of neoliberal or classic liberal ideals. Mixed ideological principles, contextual economic conditions, and complex dependencies between individual actors create cases which must be analysed carefully to find out if neoliberal elements really exist and how they are transformed. Close relations between economic and political actors and creation of economic monopolies should raise doubts if vocabulary of liberalization is just a disguise of actions supporting hidden political and economic interests.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Department of Geographical and Historical Studies, University of Eastern Finland, PL 101, FIN-80101 Joensuu, 2: Oulanka Research Station/Thule Institute, University of Oulu, Liikasenvaarantie 134, FIN-93999 Kuusamo, Finland,
Publication date: 2012-09-01