Actors’ roles and perceptions on the opportunities to increase nature conservation effectiveness: A study of interaction between knowledge and policy process

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles

    Abstract

    Scientific knowledge shows compelling evidence of intensifying global environmental problems such as biodiversity loss and climate change. Unfortunately, this knowledge has not been directly translated into actions that would have reversed these worrying trends. The effectiveness of conservation, i.e. its ability to produce a desired result, is the outcome of interaction between knowledge and policy process. Efforts have recently been made to use existing scientific knowledge to combine current policy instruments and to develop new innovative approaches to conservation.

    In this PhD thesis I empirically study the perspectives of various actors and their roles in topical Finnish conservation efforts: green infrastructure, voluntary forest conservation and conflicting peatland policy. I examine how different knowledge types and policy instruments contribute to conservation effectiveness. The study utilizes an expert survey, focus groups, combining multiple methods using the case study approach, and integrating social and ecological data.

    The results illustrate how actors may interpret differently complex concepts, such as ecosystem services and ecological connectivity; the use of these concepts may even be politically coloured. Ambiguity concerning the definition of green infrastructure may create obstacles for practical implementation. In the peatland conservation policy case, where actors’ interests differed, implemented policy instruments did not match existing knowledge. The role of other knowledge types along with ecological knowledge may be more important when designing voluntary rather than compulsory instruments, because participation to voluntary actions needs to be attractive. The collaboration of actors is an integral part of increasing conservation efforts in the voluntary conservation. Interaction and valuation of various knowledge types may have a complicating effect on conservation practices, but different knowledge types can be integrated for more effective results.

    The study shows that policies should be designed in a way that allows the practical application of knowledge. The study elucidates what kind of challenges and opportunities for increasing effectiveness are faced in different phases of a policy process. I argue that the use of scientific evidence must be combined with the usage of other knowledge types and involvement of various actors. In addition, potential interest differences of actors should be considered when planning participation. In this way a combination of policy instruments can be developed, which simultaneously increases evidence uptake, acceptance and effectiveness leading to a more sustainable future.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationHelsinki
    Publisher
    Print ISBNs978-951-51-3743-2
    Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-3744-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

    Fields of Science

    • 1172 Environmental sciences

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