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Challenging Nature: understanding business perceptions and actions regarding biodiversity

Smith, Thomas Weston (2018) Challenging Nature: understanding business perceptions and actions regarding biodiversity. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Biodiversity loss is a major global challenge with action required from the global to the local level. Businesses are increasingly being called on to help tackle the causes of biodiversity loss by accounting for the impacts and dependencies of their activities on the landscapes in which they operate. Despite recent advances in research and practice, many uncertainties remain regarding business involvement in biodiversity conservation. This thesis tackles some of these uncertainties by seeking to understand what shapes business priorities regarding biodiversity and why some businesses are acting whilst others are not. Drawing on a review of formal corporate reporting and 70 depth interviews, this thesis uses the cases of forestry and salmon farming in Chile to explore three interrelated questions across three papers. Firstly, there is an empirical gap regarding our understanding of how businesses perceive biodiversity and the utility of formal reporting in motivating operational reforms. What does corporate reporting tell us about business perceptions and actions regarding biodiversity? Secondly, stakeholders are acknowledged as essential in helping businesses to comprehend impacts and dependencies on biodiversity. Yet the processes and results of learning processes remain unclear. How do stakeholders help businesses understand and act on biodiversity? Thirdly, the benefits of reform to account for biodiversity are frequently emphasised, both by practitioners and scholars, but the challenges businesses face in enacting reform have received little attention. What challenges do businesses face in understanding and acting on biodiversity? This thesis suggests that natural resource-based businesses can do more to manage their impacts on biodiversity, but their willingness and capacity to act is framed by the socio-ecological context in which they operate. Stakeholders can help businesses better understand and manage operational impacts on biodiversity, but change is unlikely without structures that support sustained debate and reform. The findings address an empirical gap regarding business interdependencies with biodiversity and the analysis provides conceptual tools to advance future research. The thesis considers how these findings intersect with current debates in corporate sustainability and conservation social science regarding business involvement in biodiversity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
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Keywords: Biodiversity, Corporate Sustainability, Corporate Responsibility, Conservation Science, Political Ecology, Forestry, Salmon Farming
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > Institute for Earth, Energy and Environment (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mr Thomas W Smith
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2018 12:09
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2018 12:09
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22325

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