Natural protected areas are contexts of practical conflicts and the subject of diverse representations and interpretations (different perceptions). Different levels of agency (including those attributed to animals) must be considered. This panel intends to invite and stimulate reflections on this issue.
Natural Protected Areas (NPA) are contexts of several conflicts, either in terms of the relations between human individuals (and/or groups) who live there and the institutions that administrate them, or between human individuals and all those non-human elements that (co)inhabit with them in these areas. NPA and natural conservation in general have also always been the subject of different and conflictive representations and interpretations (perceptions). These different approaches are especially embraced by two imprecise social groups – because within them there are diverse positions regarding these same issues. On the one hand we find NPA dwellers, and in particular those who carry out agricultural/livestock/fishing activities, and on the other hand we see what might be called metropolitan conservationists, i.e. biologists and other wildlife defenders who base their positions on environmental and ecological assumptions. Conflicts must also be understood against a political background in which governments (as representatives of National States) adopt an international paradigm: environmental concerns and natural conservation are signs of countries’ modernization processes. Therefore, this structural dichotomy is not new and relates to non-negotiated views and positions towards the same material/physical things. An oak tree is for sure a different thing for a conservationist, a local dweller, and the director of an NPA. Different levels of agency (including those attributed to animals) must be considered, bearing in mind that NPA are also much appreciated economic arenas for new forms of making money (new rural economies).