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The rise of planning in nature conservation and the practitioners’ approach to conflicts. The inspiring case of the Northern French Alps nature reserves

Arpin, Isabelle
Journal for nature conservation 2019 v.48 pp. 54-60
conservation areas, interviews, planning, Alps region, France
This article examines how the rise of planning in conservation influences the conservation practitioners’ approach to conflicts in a region where protected areas have limited power. It is based on an analysis of the management plans of ten nature reserves of the Northern French Alps, complemented with interviews with the practitioners involved in elaborating these plans. It shows that the collaborative paradigm, predicated on the idea that deliberation between parties can lead to a shared understanding of the common good, has pervaded conservation planning. Collaborative planning enriches the planners’ view of the practices and values at work in the reserves. But it also encourages them to develop conflict avoiding strategies that contribute to maintaining existing power imbalances, which in such regions are often detrimental to conservation goals. Analysing the power relationships at play locally, encouraging the planners’ reflexivity, and increasing their agency would help realize the transformative potential of contentious situations.