Conflicts over wildlife conservation: learning from the reintroduction of beavers in Scotland

Coz, Deborah M.; Young, Juliette C. ORCID: 2020 Conflicts over wildlife conservation: learning from the reintroduction of beavers in Scotland. People and Nature, 2 (2). 406-419.

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1. Species reintroductions have become a common conservation tool, but they can be controversial and may generate social conflicts. 2. We examine the social dimension of beaver reintroduction in Scotland to understand the issue, the potential for, and impact of, conflict between groups or individuals with differing views on beavers and reintroductions. 3. Using a literature review and semi‐structured interviews, we studied planned and unplanned beaver reintroductions to three contrasting landscapes in Scotland: in Knapdale, the reintroduction was planned and science‐led, whereas in Tayside and the Highlands, the reintroductions were accidental and/or illegal. 4. Our results highlight the context dependency and complexity of reintroductions. Nationally, the reintroduction of beavers has not become a conflict. At the local scale, we found the Tayside situation to be a conflict with major consequences on the debate at the national scale. While there were no conflicts in the Highlands and Knapdale, the reintroduction remains controversial. 5. The level of conflict depended on the reintroduction process, relationships between stakeholders and their perspectives on their role in nature, their perceptions of landscapes, and the potential issue of lack of control and uncertainty around reintroductions. 6. Based on these findings, the study outlines lessons learned in terms of management, guidelines and implications for future species reintroductions. We argue that to prevent future conflicts over reintroductions, processes must go beyond addressing the effects of reintroduced species on the environment and people's perceptions and acceptance of these species. Reintroduction processes require engagement in effective discussions which involve all actual and potential stakeholders to agree on broad and long‐term conservation plans at the landscape scale.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2575-8314
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: beavers, Castor fiber, conservation conflicts, perceptions, rewilding, Scotland, species reintroductions
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 13 May 2020 09:33 +0 (UTC)

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