Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

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

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Forest Science
    Social Psychology

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)