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Green Infrastructure a line of trees or a philosophy? A study of a contested concept at the County Administrative Board of Skåne

Thoresen, Wösel LU (2018) SGEM08 20171
Department of Human Geography
Abstract
Landscape fragmentation and decreasing habitat areas poses a threat to biodiversity worldwide. Green infrastructure has developed as a conservation approach promoting habitat connectivity on a landscape scale. However, green infrastructure is much more than a network of natural structures and elements enabling species movement. It represents a new mode in environmental protection policy, addressing the contradictions between economic development and nature conservation. All county administrative boards of Sweden are currently developing regional green infrastructure action plans, which are supposed to be submitted to the ministry of the environment and energy on October 1st 2018. Departing from the theoretical framework of political... (More)
Landscape fragmentation and decreasing habitat areas poses a threat to biodiversity worldwide. Green infrastructure has developed as a conservation approach promoting habitat connectivity on a landscape scale. However, green infrastructure is much more than a network of natural structures and elements enabling species movement. It represents a new mode in environmental protection policy, addressing the contradictions between economic development and nature conservation. All county administrative boards of Sweden are currently developing regional green infrastructure action plans, which are supposed to be submitted to the ministry of the environment and energy on October 1st 2018. Departing from the theoretical framework of political ecology this study is an exploration of how the participants in the green infrastructure project in Skåne understand the concept of green infrastructure. The empirical findings are analyzed after the model of contested concept. According to the model can a concepts’ meaning be
divided into two levels; the first level is united by a set collective core ideas characteristic to the concept. The
contest of contestable concepts occurs in the second level of meaning where the interpretations of what a
concept means in practice and how it should be operationalized are formed. The findings show that there is a
general consensus among the practitioners regarding a set of core ideas. The main purpose of green
infrastructure is to strengthen and protect biodiversity through applying a strategic landscape approach to
environmental protection and by involving actors from outside the county administrative board. The conceptual
challenges and contradictions arise when discussing how green infrastructure is supposed to develop from policy,
into an operationalizable tool in conservation practice. The main conflict is the contradiction between green
infrastructure’s function as a communicative tool for promoting environmental policy, and its inability to
adequately conceptualize ecological relationships. The main differences between the respondents in the study
is whether they understand green infrastructure as a noun, i.e. green infrastructure planning, or as an adjective,
i.e. green infrastructure thinking. All participants express criticism towards adopting the terminology green
infrastructure. The respondents experience that the words green and infrastructure do not properly reflect the
concepts comprehensive meaning. The intuitive and potentially misleading understanding of the concept
prevent practitioners to seek more information about its meaning leading to possible ecological dangers
associated with the operationalization of the concept. There is a belief that because the words have strong
intuitive connotations, the terminology itself is preventing a clear definition and purpose of the present project.
This study shows that it is necessary to confront and discuss the comprehensive meaning of green infrastructure
in order to reach a successful implementation of green infrastructure. As it is understood by the participants in
this study green infrastructure aims at conceptualizing landscape relations, rather than single elements. As an
adjective promoting a strategic approach to conservation green infrastructure is perceived as an advantageous
concept. As a noun, green infrastructure is experienced as ecologically inadequate. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Thoresen, Wösel LU
supervisor
organization
course
SGEM08 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Green infrastructure, landscape, political ecology, biodiversity, environmental governance, ecological modernization
language
English
id
8936600
date added to LUP
2018-03-01 10:03:01
date last changed
2018-03-01 10:03:01
@misc{8936600,
  abstract     = {Landscape fragmentation and decreasing habitat areas poses a threat to biodiversity worldwide. Green infrastructure has developed as a conservation approach promoting habitat connectivity on a landscape scale. However, green infrastructure is much more than a network of natural structures and elements enabling species movement. It represents a new mode in environmental protection policy, addressing the contradictions between economic development and nature conservation. All county administrative boards of Sweden are currently developing regional green infrastructure action plans, which are supposed to be submitted to the ministry of the environment and energy on October 1st 2018. Departing from the theoretical framework of political ecology this study is an exploration of how the participants in the green infrastructure project in Skåne understand the concept of green infrastructure. The empirical findings are analyzed after the model of contested concept. According to the model can a concepts’ meaning be
divided into two levels; the first level is united by a set collective core ideas characteristic to the concept. The
contest of contestable concepts occurs in the second level of meaning where the interpretations of what a
concept means in practice and how it should be operationalized are formed. The findings show that there is a
general consensus among the practitioners regarding a set of core ideas. The main purpose of green
infrastructure is to strengthen and protect biodiversity through applying a strategic landscape approach to
environmental protection and by involving actors from outside the county administrative board. The conceptual
challenges and contradictions arise when discussing how green infrastructure is supposed to develop from policy,
into an operationalizable tool in conservation practice. The main conflict is the contradiction between green
infrastructure’s function as a communicative tool for promoting environmental policy, and its inability to
adequately conceptualize ecological relationships. The main differences between the respondents in the study
is whether they understand green infrastructure as a noun, i.e. green infrastructure planning, or as an adjective,
i.e. green infrastructure thinking. All participants express criticism towards adopting the terminology green
infrastructure. The respondents experience that the words green and infrastructure do not properly reflect the
concepts comprehensive meaning. The intuitive and potentially misleading understanding of the concept
prevent practitioners to seek more information about its meaning leading to possible ecological dangers
associated with the operationalization of the concept. There is a belief that because the words have strong
intuitive connotations, the terminology itself is preventing a clear definition and purpose of the present project.
This study shows that it is necessary to confront and discuss the comprehensive meaning of green infrastructure
in order to reach a successful implementation of green infrastructure. As it is understood by the participants in
this study green infrastructure aims at conceptualizing landscape relations, rather than single elements. As an
adjective promoting a strategic approach to conservation green infrastructure is perceived as an advantageous
concept. As a noun, green infrastructure is experienced as ecologically inadequate.},
  author       = {Thoresen, Wösel},
  keyword      = {Green infrastructure,landscape,political ecology,biodiversity,environmental governance,ecological modernization},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Green Infrastructure a line of trees or a philosophy? A study of a contested concept at the County Administrative Board of Skåne},
  year         = {2018},
}