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Addressing Ecological Uncertainty and Nature Conservation Conflicts: Adaptive Management Models for English Nature Conservation Law and Policy and Practice: A Case Study of the Humberhead Levels Nature Improvement Area

Dimitropoulou, Anna (2018) Addressing Ecological Uncertainty and Nature Conservation Conflicts: Adaptive Management Models for English Nature Conservation Law and Policy and Practice: A Case Study of the Humberhead Levels Nature Improvement Area. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis aims to contribute to the understanding of the complexity of nature conservation within a regulatory context by exploring the capacity of English nature conservation law and policy to support the adaptation of decisions to constantly changing ecological conditions and competing interests. The researcher undertook a case study in the Humberhead Levels Nature Improvement Area in order to explore how conservation management operates in practice within the legal framework for nature conservation and how different nature conservation is on the ground. Law’s traditionally adversarial, linear and reductionist approach makes it ill-equipped to respond to these manifestations of social-ecological complexity. Adaptive management is proposed in this thesis as capable of responding to the challenges of uncertainty and conflict. Two models are identified: one that highlights the need for evolving scientific knowledge and another that provides a framework for conflict resolution, stressing the need for collaboration. The thesis suggests that within the English nature conservation legal framework adaptive management, albeit not prescribed, can apply. The thesis also suggests that law primarily sets a framework that delineates action. There are only a few cases where administrative action is prescribed by law. Even within designated areas, the approach taken is one of ‘regulated flexibility’. Wide administrative discretion, underpinned by judicial deference, allows for variable implementation, nevertheless against a set of firm rules to prevent abuse by all parties involved. Within this framework, it lies with the administration to set thresholds of flexibility and choose which of an array of available instruments to implement. The end result can be anywhere across a continuum from technocratic to collaborative, from static to adaptive decision making. The empirical study in the HHL NIA suggests that the scale is tipped in favour of the latter. Both models of adaptive management were evident, each being more prominent in certain stages of decision making. Finally, the thesis proposes that amendments such as a statutory requirement of proactive coherent management planning and the introduction of multilateral and collective agreements are some of the ways that the regime can “adapt” in order to become “adaptive.”

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Law
Depositing User: Miss Anna Dimitropoulou
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2018 16:37
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2018 16:37
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21943

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