Moving Beyond the Impasse
Edited by James Meadowcroft, Oluf Langhelle and Audun Ruud
Chapter 4: Local participation and learning in nature protection: a Swedish success story
The protection of biological diversity worldwide is increasingly seen as a challenge on par with the quest to remedy the causes and impacts of climate change. The United Nations declared 2010 the International Year of Biological Diversity and this was also the target year (set in 2001) for the European Union (EU) to halt the loss of biodiversity in its territory (EU 2001). Ecosystems provide a number of basic services that are essential for using the Earth’s resources sustainably, including provisioning services (food, fibre, water, and so on), supporting services (for example, pollination, primary production), regulating services (climate, pests, flood regulation, and so on) and cultural services (for example recreation, ethical and spiritual values) (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). Despite ambitious targets, biodiversity is still in decline and land cover changes, including the expansion of urban settlements and the exploitation of natural resources, continue to negatively affect ecosystem services (EEA 2010). Recognizing the urgent need for increased efforts, the European Council endorsed a long-term biodiversity vision for 2050 and set a target to halt the degradation of ecosystem services by 2020, which was also in line with the decisions of the Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting on the Convention of Biological Diversity in Nagoya in October 2010. The implementation of nature conservation involves multiple levels of government and a range of different methods, including the creation of protected areas of different sizes, specialized management practices, and not least the engagement of local citizens and land owners. However, despite the ambitious targets set at international and national levels, the realization of sustainable methods to protect biological diversity and recreational values is often faced with multiple constraints. When areas are to be set aside from economic activities such as agriculture, forestry or the building of roads and housing estates, in the end priority is typically given to more easily measured and short-term benefits.
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