Unravelling stakeholder participation under conditions of neoliberal biodiversity governance in Catalonia, Spain

Sara Maestre-Andrés, Laura Calvet-Mir, Evangelia Apostolopoulou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

8 Citations (Scopus)


© The Author(s) 2018. The restructuring of biodiversity governance in Europe during the last two decades has been, inter alia, based on the argument that effective conservation hinges on consensual decision-making involving all relevant stakeholders. This has given rise to various network-based forms of governance and participatory arrangements in protected areas reinforcing the involvement of business and non-state actors, particularly through the creation of profitable public–private partnerships. Even though this shift has been framed as promoting stakeholder and public participation, in practice it has often hampered democratic decision-making and community empowerment. In this paper, we investigate the restructuring of biodiversity governance through the establishment of participatory arrangements in the governance of the natural park of Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac, a place whose history has been linked with the emergence of one of the first environmental movements in Catalonia (Spain). We pay particular attention to the role of participatory arrangements in transforming power relationships and in promoting a neoliberal mode of biodiversity governance. We find that governance restructuring under the rhetoric of promoting stakeholder participation has in practice led to the exclusion of key social actors from the management of the natural park and favoured the inclusion of actors with mainly economic motivations further embedding a neoliberal agenda in the governance of the park and ultimately disempowering local community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1299-1318
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Biodiversity governance
  • consensus
  • depoliticisation
  • natural park
  • neoliberal conservation
  • participatory arrangements


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