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Kovacs E.K.,University of Cambridge | Kovacs E.K.,Environmental Social Science Research Group ESSRG | Pataki G.,Corvinus University of Budapest
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2016

This paper examines the participation opportunities and role of nominated experts from the Eastern European region in the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The governance of international knowledge-making spaces and events occurs through standardised institutional rules and expectations that affect experts as well as define accepted forms of knowledge. Within IPBES, experts may participate through United Nations Regional Groupings, which are regions that have complex geopolitical legacies and features. Between regions, experts have variable financial, networking and institutional capacities that in turn affect the operations and outputs of their contributions to science-policy interfaces. For IPBES, regional and localised environmental assessments and ecosystem services valuations require existing place-specific knowledge that may not be 'available', as well as understandings that are frequently in conflict with the standardised, homogenising practices of international environmental knowledge-making. © 2016.

Kovacs E.,Szent Istvan University | Kovacs E.,Environmental Social Science Research Group ESSRG | Fabok V.,Szent Istvan University | Fabok V.,Environmental Social Science Research Group ESSRG | And 4 more authors.
Land Use Policy | Year: 2016

Conflicts often arise in relation to the conservation of protected predator species. If stakeholders are well defined and involved in participatory processes, their views and perceptions can be incorporated and steps can be made towards resolving such conflicts. In this paper, a case from Hungary is presented. In this case, a participatory management planning process was initiated in the Jászság Special Protection Area of European importance (SPA), within the frame of a LIFE+ project focusing on the conservation of the Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca). It provided a good opportunity to address a complex conflict situation between nature conservationists, game managers and farmers. We identified structural conflicts such as contradictions between direct agricultural payments and nature conservation goals, conflicts related to different views of the main influencing factors, relational problems between various stakeholders, and even differences in value orientation. The participatory management planning process was successful in clarifying the conflict situation and making productive steps toward a common understanding and resolution. Besides the mutually agreed conservation measures, the establishment of an administrative and financial incentive such as the high nature value area (HNVA) scheme proved to be an especially important factor for mitigating the conflict. It also contributed to a more successful realisation of nature conservation objectives in an area dominated by private land owners. However, continued interaction and cooperation are needed to stabilise this progress. Our paper also shows that stakeholder involvement in conservation management planning can transcend the strategic dimension of participation, and address broader common values besides the interests of land user groups. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

Heink U.,Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research | van Herzele A.,Research Institute for Nature and Forest INBO | Bela G.,Environmental Social Science Research Group ESSRG | Kaloczkai A.,Hungarian Academy of Sciences | And 2 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2016

The prevention and management of invasive alien species (IAS) has become a high priority in European environmental policy. At the same time, ways of evaluating IAS continue to be a topic of lively debate. In particular, it is far from clear how directly policy makers’ value judgements are linked to the European (EU) policy against IAS. We examine the arguments used to support value judgements of both alien species and invasive alien species as well as the relation between these value judgements and the policy against IAS being developed at European level. Our study is based on 17 semi-structured interviews with experts from EU policy making and from the EU member states Austria, Belgium, Germany and Hungary. We found that our interviewees conceived of IAS in very different ways, expressed a variety of visions of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and adhered to widely different values expressed in their perceptions of IAS and the impacts of IAS. However, only some of these conceptualizations and value judgements are actually addressed in the rationale given in the preamble to the European IAS Regulation. Although value judgements about IAS differed, there was considerable agreement regarding the kind of action to be taken against them. © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

Mihok B.,Center forEcological Research | Kovacs E.,Szent Istvan University | Kovacs E.,Environmental Social Science Research Group ESSRG | Balazs B.,Szent Istvan University | And 34 more authors.
Journal for Nature Conservation | Year: 2015

Halting biodiversity loss is a critical aim for the forthcoming decades, but is hindered by the gap between research and practice. Bridging this gap is a significant challenge in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, where, compared to Western European countries, biodiversity is higher but the research budget is lower. Approaches to address bridging this gap include participatory research prioritizing exercises. These demand-driven collaborative ranking processes have proven to be a useful tool in providing a research agenda derived from a review of critical challenges based on stakeholder engagement. However, for research agendas to be effectively realized, they are best developed and implemented at the operative level of research financing and implementation. This paper shows the process and the outcome of an exercise conducted in Hungary aiming to compile the most important conservation research questions at the country-level and outlines a set of further measures and tools required for dissemination and advocacy for the research agenda. During the process 792 research questions were collated from conservation practitioners and natural resource managers based on interviews and via an online questionnaire; the final 50 most important questions were identified by practitioners and policy makers during an expert workshop. Questions are embedded in global and EU biodiversity targets and imply a pragmatic approach with the aim of identifying research that supports policy- and decision-making regarding habitat management, land-use and regional development, while also focussing on conflicting issues. The outcome of the process includes the potential for lobbying, therefore post-publication activities and dissemination strategies are outlined as an integrated part of the exercise. © 2015 Elsevier GmbH.

Berry P.M.,University of Oxford | Fabok V.,Szent Istvan University | Fabok V.,Environmental Social Science Research Group ESSRG | Blicharska M.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | And 12 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2016

Given the concern about biodiversity loss, there are a number of arguments used for biodiversity conservation ranging from those emphasising the intrinsic value of biodiversity to those on the direct use value of ecosystems. Yet arguing the case for biodiversity conservation effectively requires an understanding of why people value biodiversity. We used Q methodology to explore and understand how different conservation practitioners (social and natural science researchers, environmental non-Governmental organisations and decision-makers) in nine European countries argue for conservation. We found that there was a plurality of views about biodiversity and its conservation. A moral argument and some arguments around the intrinsic and ecological value of biodiversity were held by all stakeholder groups. They also shared the view that species valuation does not justify the destruction of nature. However, there were also some differences within and between the groups, which primarily reflected the espousal of either ecocentric or anthropocentric viewpoints. Our findings suggest that moral arguments and those around biodiversity’s intrinsic and ecological value could potentially serve as a starting point for building consensus among conservation practitioners. © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

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