Universalism vs localism: exploring conflicts about nature conservation practices in Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini, Italy
(Università degli Studi di Perugia)
Paper short abstract:
Italian nature protection policies acknowledge the role of local communities. Nevertheless struggles remain between parks' managers and local populations. Research in Sibillini mountains reveals how professional ecologists conceive a universalistic policy of conservation excluding local knowledge.
Paper long abstract:
During the past five decades Italian mountains have been highly depopulated. The environmental abandonment and the erosion of traditional landscapes resulted in so severe hydrogeological risks that national and European regulations about nature protection, accordingly to concepts as community-based conservation and sustainable development, tend to enhance the ecological role of local communities and their traditional environmental knowledge. Nevertheless, cultural and social struggles remain between protected areas managers and local populations. Exploring the conflict in Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini, a protected area in the Central Apennines, the research focused in this presentation has revealed how professional ecology and biology, as political practices, seems to conceive a public, universalistic form of possession and management of nature excluding local traditional uses. The attitude of park managers consists in forms of nature protection which appears bureaucratized and insensitive to local communities needs and expectations; as a result depopulation still increase as well as populations' feelings of disillusion and hostility towards the park as a tool for sustainable development. Thus the emerging question is whether to conserve a nature—as always managed by local populations—or produce a new, idealized model of nature to satisfy the expectations of tourists and ecologists.
Practices of environmental justice: negotiating the relation between the social and the ecological sphere