CfA: Protected areas under transformation – neoliberalisation and conservation

We want to call your attention to our panel on “Protected areas under transformation – neoliberalisation and conservation” at Deutscher Kongress für Geographie 2017 Tübingen (30.09.-05.10.2017)
Protection areas under transformation – neo-liberalisation and conservation

Abstracts for paper presentations can be handed in until 10. April 2017

• Olivier Graefe, Universitat Fribourg, Depart. of Geosciences, Fribourg/Schweiz E-Mail:

• Norman Backhaus, Universitat Zurich, Geographie, Zurich/Schweiz E-Mail:

Neoliberal and market logics are becoming an increasingly dominant feature of debates that surround conservation and protection areas. Aside from whether such a development is desirable, clearly the emergence of neoliberal logics and practices in protection areas will have implications. Therefore, the aim of this panel is to explore these implications in order to understand how neo-liberalisation processes are transforming the management of these areas and the things they contain.

Neoliberal and market logics are becoming an increasingly dominant feature of debates that surround conservation and protection areas. Neoliberal conservation (as it is often termed) can be broadly understood as a combination of capitalist logics, approaches and practices to solving the problems of environmental degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss. (Holmes, 2015; Igoe & Brockington, 2007). For protection areas the incursion of neoliberal management practices and market logics can be seen at a number of scales; From changes in the ways that regional and national authorities view and develop policy around these areas (as places of opportunities for economic development, i.e. ecotourism and other conservation based industries). In a certain disengagement by state actors through facilitation of private sector and civil society actors (e.g. environmental NGO’s, environmental trusts, etc.) to sponsors, fund, and undertake conservation projects within protection areas and in developing private protection areas. And in the appropriation of business management thinking and strategies in protection area management  (Holmes, 2015). Aside from whether such a development is desirable, clearly the emergence of neoliberal logics and practices in protection areas will have implications.

This session therefore aims to identify and explore these implications in order to understand how neoliberal practices, approaches and logics are transforming protection areas at a number of scales and in various social, political and environmental contexts. Drawing inspiration from recent work on the neoliberal conservation and the social and political negotiations that surround protection area management, we put forward the proposition that these areas will not be the same, will not look the same, will not contain the same sorts of nature and will not see the same sorts of human-nature relations. Thus, we ask for contributions that address the following questions:

–     How does the appropriation of business management thinking and strategies change how protection areas are managed and governed?
–     How does outsourcing biodiversity conservation and associated costs to non-state actors, change conservation debates, negotiations and power relations?
–     What effect do changes to management strategies and outsourcing have on the type and way conservation is undertaken in these areas? On the specific species, ecosystems, landscapes that are prioritized? On the conservation paradigms that are adopted or on the nuanced ways that dominant paradigms are re-negotiated and re-arranged?
–     And how might this then effect the spaces, places and natures contained within these areas?

Holmes, G. (2015). Markets, nature, neoliberalism, and conservation through private protected areas in southern Chile. Environment and Planning A, 47(4), 850-866.
Igoe, J., & Brockington, D. (2007). Neoliberal Conservation: A Brief Introduction Jim Igoe and Dan Brockington. Conservation and Society, 5(4), 432–449.

With kind regards, Norman & Olivier

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