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The struggle for local autonomy in biodiversity conservation governance

Pittman, Jeremy
Journal of environmental planning and management 2019 v.62 no.1 pp. 172-188
biodiversity conservation, case studies, decision making, governance, prairies, rural areas
Institutional change is typically needed to address the suite of sustainability challenges currently facing rural areas. Institutional work is a potentially valuable lens to advance such change. By examining a case study of biodiversity conservation from the Canadian Prairies, this article illuminates the patterns and processes of institutional work apparent over time as local actors struggle to improve their autonomy in conservation governance - a feature thought to be particularly important to advance sustainability. The article finds that institutional work progressed through three phases of maintaining, disrupting and crafting at various levels of organization. Local actors became increasingly involved as the phases progressed; however, they continue to struggle for improved autonomy in decision making processes. The article demonstrates one pathway towards local autonomy in conservation governance, but also highlights the continued challenges faced by local actors in pursing such autonomy.