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Community participation in local decision-making in protected areas: the case of the New Forest National Park, Hampshire, England.

Hewlett, D., 2010. Community participation in local decision-making in protected areas: the case of the New Forest National Park, Hampshire, England. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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This research sought to establish the extent of and reasons for community participation and non participation in local decision-making practices in the New Forest National Park, a protected area, in Southern England. Following a critical examination of the literature and previous research the concepts and theories of government, governance and of social capital were identified as being critical for an understanding and explanation of community engagement and disengagement. Primary data was collected through a series of qualitative interviews with representatives of institutions and of the local community in the area together with two concurrent quantitative surveys, one a random household survey and the other of individuals registered on an existing citizen's panel. Unlike studies of participation in society at large, the findings show a high level of participation is occurring. The nature and characteristics of this participation are examined in terms of non participation and three levels of participation categorized as; individual, collective, and leadership. Distinguishing characteristics of these four categories include the respondents' 'level of education', 'length of residence in the area' and their views of their local community. It was also demonstrated that the varying levels of engagement and disengagement can additionally be differentiated by an individual's perception as to their political efficacy and their degree of cynicism towards institutions. These views on governance question the depth and quality of participation occurring in the New Forest and are further related to the systems of engagement identified. This research addresses gaps in previous studies conducted in protected areas in that it focuses upon the range of participation and non participation demonstrated in a western protected area context. The results of this research raise questions as to just how transferable best practices are and how feasible wider community engagement is to achieve in the New Forest or other protected areas where participatory principles are practiced in what are fundamentally centralized governmental systems based on representative democratic regimes. These findings have implications for the design of community engagement strategies and for additional research into community participation. They suggest that if further progress is to be made in understanding community participation in protected areas two challenges need to be confronted, namely agreement on a definition of 'good' governance and on the constituents of wider community engagement which recognise the particular characteristics of the 'protected area' context. Suggestions for future research based on single, comparative and longitudinal case studies in other protected areas are proposed. More specifically research on non and limited participation is particularly encouraged due to the potential such an inquiry holds for informing the design of innovative and effective forms of participation aimed at increasing wider community engagement. Keywords: community participation, local decision-making, characteristics and reasons for engagement and disengagement, social capital, governance, best practice, wider community.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:16055
Deposited On:10 Sep 2010 08:02
Last Modified:09 Aug 2022 16:02


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