The English National Forest: local reactions to plans for renegotiated nature-society relations in the countryside

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The designation of a new National Forest in the English midlands presents a series of practical difficulties in implementing the afforestation of existing landscapes. It also suggests the imposition of new representations of nature-society relations on existing people and communities. In this paper, we use Margaret Fitzsimmons' notion of 'social nature' and subsequent concerns with the social meanings of nature to interpret a variety of narratives used to represent the likely outcomes of the National Forest proposals. These narratives were constructed in public meetings with community groups - a methodology which, despite problems of intersubjectivity and rhetoric, offers thoughtful and insightful indications of how different social relations and social meanings of nature are 'placed' through the social construction of locality.

Keywords: English midlands; National Forest; narrative; nature-society relations; public meetings; research methods; social nature

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1996

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