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Title: Designating national parks in contested landscapes : governance challenges and the evolving national park concept in Northern Ireland, with lessons from Scotland
Author: Bell, Jonathan Patrick Walker
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines rural governance practice and the global evolution of national park models by analysing the attempted designation of the Mournes national park in Northern Ireland and the actual designation of the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. Qualitative data is analysed thematically to provide comparative insights into the ability of participatory governance to manage diverse countryside interests in order to establish national parks in contested rural locations. The thesis employs a distinct analytical framework, comprising the theoretical concepts of governance, power, participation and the resource paradox. Comparing attempts to designate national parks in Northern Ireland and Scotland since devolution (1999) demonstrates the influence of contextual factors, including wider governing circumstances, socio-political and land ownership context and landscape management legacies, on participatory practice. Ethno-national connotations surrounding the 'national' park concept are shown to add to the complexity of national park designation in Northern Ireland. Furthermore structural factors, relating to how policy processes are initiated and designed (including the participatory and governance mechanisms employed) directly influenced public participation. Participatory practice was undermined by power which manifest at different stages of the policy process, while deeply entrenched power relations, linked to the pattern and legacy of land ownership, are revealed as a barrier to inclusive participatory practice. A ladder illustrating the global evolution of national park models is presented. The Cairngorms National Park model is shown to be distinct in a global context with the model proposed in the Northern Ireland National Parks White Paper (2011) representing a further evolutionary stage. The appropriateness of this model in the Mournes locality is questioned . This thesis provides new insights into the practice of participatory governance, power relations in rural society and evolving national park models in their broader social and economic context
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available