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Environmental governance and its implications for conservation practice

Armitage, Derek, de Loë, Rob, Plummer, Ryan
Conservation letters 2012 v.5 no.4 pp. 245-255
decision making, environmental governance, hybrids, learning, managers, markets, scientists
Governments are no longer the most important source of decision making in the environmental field. Instead, new actors are playing critical decision‐making roles, and new mechanisms and forums for decision making are becoming important (e.g., in some contexts regulation is being supplemented or replaced by markets and cooperative arrangements). New ways of governing in relation to the environment have important implications for the practice of conservation. Greater awareness of key ideas and concepts of environmental governance can help conservation managers and scientists participate more effectively in governance processes. Understanding how conservation practice is influenced by emergent hybrid and network governance arrangements is particularly important. This short review explores key environmental governance concepts relevant to the practice of conservation, with specific reference to institutional fit and scale; adaptiveness, flexibility and learning; the coproduction of knowledge from diverse sources; the emergence of new actors and their roles in governance; and changing expectations about accountability and legitimacy. Case‐based examples highlight key directions in environmental governance.