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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Is forest regeneration good for biodiversity? Exploring the social dimensions of an apparently ecological debate

Barnaud, Cecile; Fischer, Anke; Staddon, Sam C.; Blackstock, Kirsty L.; Moreau, Clemence; Corbera, Esteve; Hester, Alison; Mathevet, Raphaël; McKee, Annie; Reyes, Joana; Sirami, Clelia; Eastwood, Antonia


Forest regeneration is a major land-use change in European uplands, and whether or not this is a desirable change for biodiversity is disputed. While this debate seems to be largely situated in the field of natural sciences, this paper aims to also examine its social dimensions. To do so, we adopt a comparative discourse analysis with four cases of protected areas in France, Spain, and Scotland. We draw on a conceptual framework highlighting both the ecological and social factors underpinning the construction of environmental discourses. It notably emphasises the role of interests, ideas and institutions, and the power dynamics underpinning discourse-coalitions. We show how diverging discourses emerged, gained ground, coalesced and competed differently in different contexts, explaining the adoption of seemingly opposite discourses by protected area authorities. These findings reaffirm the need to conceive environmental governance as an on-going deliberative process in order to achieve environmental justice.


Political ecology; Discourse analysis; Comparative study; Power; Rewilding

Published in

Environmental Science and Policy
2021, volume: 120, pages: 63-72

Authors' information

Barnaud, Cecile
National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Staddon, Sam C.
University of Edinburgh
Blackstock, Kirsty L.
James Hutton Institute
Moreau, Clemence
National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE)
Corbera, Esteve
Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)
Hester, Alison
The James Hutton Institute
Mathevet, Raphaël
University of Montpellier
McKee, Annie
The James Hutton Institute
Reyes, Joana
Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)
Sirami, Clelia
National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE)
Eastwood, Antonia
The James Hutton Institute

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Social Psychology

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