ENGOs and environmental bargains: a comparative analysis of forest conflicts in Tasmania and British Columbia

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(Thesis) Ph.D.
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This thesis focuses on environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and their roles in forest conflicts in Tasmania, Australia, and British Columbia (BC), Canada. ENGOs challenge vested economic interests in order to give greater priority to environmental values. These challenges are often highly conflictual especially with regard to resource use. ENGOs use conflicts and more cooperative forms of behaviour to create environmental bargains with other institutions, notably business, government, labour, and Aboriginal peoples, to achieve their goals. This thesis compares and contrasts environmental bargaining in the forest economies of Tasmania and BC. Conceptually, the thesis elaborates on the theme of environmental bargaining from an institutional perspective that identifies ENGOs as central actors. Environmental bargaining is context sensitive and features the integration of multiple perspectives, dimensions, and voices. Processes and outcomes are interpreted along two dimensions, distribution of power between actors and forms of decision-making ranging from non-participatory to participatory forms. Empirically, the thesis draws upon interviews with over 80 representatives of ENGOs, companies, governmental agencies, and other NGOs in Tasmania and BC. In both places, environmental bargaining was characterized by high levels of conflict and played out on multiple spatial levels led by increasingly global ENGOs. While ENGOs in BC increased their bargaining power through international markets campaigns, Tasmanian environmental groups used national and international support to strengthen their power base. In BC environmental bargaining became more consensual and participatory over time leading to considerable changes in management practices and conservation but also changes in underlying values and perspectives. In Tasmania bargaining was dominated by non-participatory forms of decision-making that did not reduce conflict potential even though the remapping of Tasmania’s forests from industrial uses to protected area status has been relatively greater. In general, ENGOs are important in restructuring and remapping resource peripheries from economic to environmental imperatives as reflected in the bargaining outcomes. Moreover, environmental bargaining is contingent on place and a closer look at the cultural, economic, and political characteristics of the two regions offers explanations as to why environmental bargaining and outcomes differ.
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