Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 39–50 | Cite as

Governing protected areas to fulfil biodiversity conservation obligations: from Habermasian ideals to a more instrumental reality

  • Peter J. S. JonesEmail author


This paper considers the implications of the growing recognition of scale challenges, with a particular focus on those concerning the governance of protected areas (PAs), through a critical literature review. Two key scale challenges raised by PAs are considered: (1) the divergence of objectives between resource exploitation and biodiversity conservation; (2) the requirement to fulfil biodiversity conservation obligations. These are explored through a review of a UK marine PA case study which found that even though the state had adopted a controlling role that had created tensions by undermining the authority and livelihoods of some stakeholders, the partnership had been sufficiently strengthened to withstand these tensions through the instrumental development of ‘bracing social capital’. Four conclusions for governance research with a particular reference to PA governance are drawn, and it is argued that presumptions based on Habermasian ideals should not constrain governance analyses, in that they should constructively incorporate the instrumental roles of the state.


Scale challenges Protected area governance Bracing social capital Communicative rationality Instrumental approaches 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity College London (UCL)LondonUK

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