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Title: Policy for protected ecological areas in urban China : a case study of the DaPeng Peninsula and the rapidly urbanizing city of Shenzhen
Author: Lin, Dan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2746 1157
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines how decisions are being taken about the protection of urban ecological areas in China, looking particularly at how the spatial claims of the demands of humans and nature/ecology are addressed through processes of governance and regulation in the city of Shenzhen. The thesis takes a political economy perspective to view nature conservation as a power struggle between different interest and values. The designation of significant ecological areas is defined as a state project for addressing society-nature conflicts, the outcomes of which are shaped by multi-scaled political processes and the relative value given to different ecological and human claims on space. Empirical research in the Shenzhen DaPeng Peninsula was conducted to map and explain changing approaches to ecological protection in China, taking into consideration factors such as power relations in environmental protection, values, and nature conservation in contemporary China, as well as changing frameworks for Chinese ecological protection. The study finds that the designation and management of ecologically sensitive areas on the DaPeng Peninsula needs to be understood within the context of transitional nature-society and economy-ecology relations in China. Rather than the pure application of ecological science, the ecological regulatory boundaries strategy is better to be understood as part of a state project to reposition and reorder the city following its rapid economic and population expansion. The political rationalities of ecological governance in Shenzhen was not necessarily just about securing a 'biophysical fix' in response to pressures and demands nature conservation, but reflected the use of ecological arguments to help support a re-regulation of society and space as the city moved to a new phase of development. Ecological conservation policy nevertheless reflects asymmetric power relations among groups. The strength of the policy, however, has been weakened by social, economic, and political tensions. The case study also reflects on and theorises wider evolving nature-society and economy-environment relations and the direction of environmental governance in China. The thesis argues that shaped by a range of pressures and forces within wider society, a new ecological paradigm is emerging, demonstrating an increased intention to ecological governance. Implicit in this new paradigm is a mixture of social, political, and ecological rationales played out within a specific institutional context. Given the relatively closed nature of decision-making which is mainly dominated by certain mainstream value judgement on nature, what matters in environmental governance in China is the political structuration of choices about ecological conservation, the 'strategic and spatial selectivity' of the state and especially the asymmetry of power relations. The thesis suggests that the social impacts of ecological regulation/governance should be given more weight in ecological protection policy in China. Overall, the contribution of the thesis to knowledge is it challenges the literature that tends to see nature conservation as being in conflict with local growth regimes. Indeed, ecological conservation policy and the designation of boundaries need to be placed within the wider politics of and urban development.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available