'Hired hands' or 'local voice': understandings and experience of local participation in conservation

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In recent years, the notion of local participation has emerged as a major force in both policy-making and political philosophy. This paper explores the role that participation is playing in mediating relations between local people, conservation organizations and the ideas and practices of nature conservation in England. Drawing upon empirical research in the county of Kent, the paper argues that there are systematic discrepancies between the motives, experiences and understandings of the various policy actors towards the theory and practice of a participatory conservation. It argues that these apparent discrepancies have serious implications for both the credibility and the effectiveness of present initiatives, whereby participatory practice serves to reshape existing conceptions of conservation and rural space.

Keywords: Kent/England; discourse; geographies of place; local participation; nature conservation; sense of agency

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 1998

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