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Licentiate thesis, 2009

Planning processes for transport and ecological infrastructures in Poland – actors’ attitudes and conflict

Blicharska, Malgorzata


Biodiversity conservation is an important contemporary issue on global, EU and national policy agendas. However, in the face of human economic development, the important question is how to protect, maintain and restore biodiversity, without compromising economic and social dimensions of sustainability. Two sectors that can to a large extent influence biodiversity are forestry and road infrastructure development. Forestry is a sector very important for biodiversity conservation, since a large amount of protected and threatened species resides in forest ecosystems and many natural processes crucial for biodiversity occur in the forest. In addition, forests and woodlands form a network of habitats for many area-demanding species. Due to intensive forest management and fragmentation of forest and woodlands many elements of biodiversity are threatened, including species, habitats and processes. Road infrastructure development is another process that can negatively influence biodiversity. A growing network of transport infrastructure without doubt affects the functionality of the forest habitat networks. Negative effects include traffic mortality due to road collisions and barrier effect for individuals caused by high traffic volume, noise, wide roads and fencing. Cumulative effects of the infrastructure development can also lead to a loss of different elements of biodiversity at the landscape scale. Poland, with a legacy of less intensive forest management and still without a well-developed road infrastructure, is fortunate in terms of biodiversity maintenance. Due to economic underdevelopment of some regions of the country, Poland is rich in natural values including specialized species, functional habitat networks and ecological processes. However, after entering the European Union, Poland has started a process of rapid economic development, mainly with the help of EU funding. Enhancing road infrastructure is presently a key issue of economic development in this country. Dramatic growth in the amount of new roads can have large scale consequences for the biodiversity of the country, and can even influence biodiversity at the European scale. Policies aiming at biodiversity maintenance underline the need for implementing sustainability ideas in the planning and management for biodiversity. Traditionally, economic, environmental and social pillars of sustainability are identified. To be able to balance these three dimensions in the efforts for biodiversity conservation, there is a need to incorporate social dimensions in the nature science research concerning biodiversity. Especially, consideration of local attitudes is necessary in planning for biodiversity conservation. The aim of this thesis is to examine actors’ attitudes and underlying values in two situations of conflict related to biodiversity conservation in Poland. One case concerns forest management in a biodiversity hot-spot, Białowieża forest and the other is about a development of a controversial road project of Augustów bypass. The results show that differences in attitudes may have various sources. The knowledge possessed by actors, their values, as well as scale at which they perceived biodiversity issues were identified as the main reasons for different attitudes. It was observed that in general, the actors whose attitudes were more “ecologically oriented” had to a large extent a cognitive view, that is their attitudes were mainly based on cognition (ecological knowledge) while “socially” or “economically oriented” actors’ attitudes were more connected to emotions. In addition to differing attitudes, lack of trust was recognized in both cases as a factor escalating the conflict. The results showed also that legal issues are crucial to consider when biodiversity conservation is at stake. The results may have implications for the practical biodiversity conservation, since they show that both learning and legal incentives would be beneficial for the biodiversity conservation in controversial planning cases. This calls for the need for neutral forum for efficient public participation, communication and trust building between the actors and learning about important issues


biodiversity conservation; forestry; road planning; attitudes; conflict; knowledge; values

Published in

Rapport (SLU, Institutionen för skogens produkter)
2009, number: 13
ISBN: 978-91-85911-55-4
Publisher: Department of Forest Products, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Blicharska, Malgorzata
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

URI (permanent link to this page)