Delineating participation in conservation governance: Insights from the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park (Spain)

M.D. López-Rodríguez, I. Ruiz-Mallén, E. Oteros-Rozas, H. March, R. Keller, V.B. Lo, M.A. Cebrián-Piqueras, R. Andrade

How are decisions actually made in protected areas and through which participatory mechanisms? How do stakeholders’ interact to make decisions in terms of shared responsibility and power-relations? To shed light on these questions we examined formal an informal governance arrangements in the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park (Spain). Our findings reveal governance arrangements are contingent upon stakeholders’ responsibility (shared vs. concentrated) and influence (equal vs. unequal), regardless of the (in)formality of decision making processes. We found four types of arrangements that characterise the National Park governance —cooperative, consultative, informative, and prescriptive—. These typologies of governance arrangements provide evidence on distinct equity conditions and power distributions offered by participatory mechanisms in conservation decision-making, as well as the mutually supportive role that formal and informal mechanisms play in shaping stakeholders’ participation. Our findings provide analytical guidance for delineating participation in conservation governance and illuminate how participatory mechanisms can be potentially enhanced for more inclusive conservation. The analytical framework on the types of governance arrangements can be adapted to other protected areas, and used as a tool to support decision-makers in better understanding stakeholdersparticipation in conservation governance and monitoring participatory practices in order to promote policy changes or management interventions towards inclusivity.

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