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Can zoning resolve nature use conflicts? The case of the Numto Nature Park in the Russian Arctic

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In the Russian Arctic, nature protection is important to preserve valuable ecosystems and indigenous lifestyles against the rapidly expanding oil and gas activities. In this regard, zoning legitimately balances influential stakeholders versus weak ones, and can leverage stakeholders to exercise their rights. This study explores how various stakeholders employ zoning in the Numto Nature Park in the oil-rich Russian Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug–Yugra to advance their interests and how they use scientific information to achieve this. Through stakeholder interviews, analysis of electronic media and literature review, we conclude that a participatory and science-based zoning exercise stimulates the necessary deliberation. However, legal ambiguity, deficient law implementation and informal practices limit the zoning's potential to balance stakeholders’ interests. All the stakeholders calculatingly used scientific information to legitimize their own ambitions, activities and claims. Hence, zoning and the underlying information claims should be interpreted as both a resource and a battleground in nature-use conflicts.
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Keywords: Russia; information; legitimacy; protected areas; zoning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Environmental Policy Group, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands 2: Environmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands 3: Care For Ecosystems UG, Bonn, Germany 4: Institute of Forest Science, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

Publication date: August 24, 2018

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