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Title: Institutional dynamics of nature conservation policy in Poland
Author: Niedzialkowski, Krzysztof
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2012
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Political and economic transition in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s and 2000s caused radical changes in the positions of the main actors involved in nature conservation as well as in the institutional and ideational setting of this policy area. Consequently, various tensions appeared between conservation of biodiversity and economic aspirations of the societies. To shed light on institutional stability and change of the nature conservation policy, this study proposes a model of policy change over time informed by a historical institutional ism, policy arrangement approach and morphogenetic approach. The balance of political capacity of actors, understood as an ability of actors to act in a particular policy domain, is suggested as the main determinant of policy stability and change. The character of policy dynamics is illustrated by nature conservation policy in Poland and three cases of biodiversity-related conflicts: two conflicts concerning road development schemes on ecologically sensitive areas before and after the accession to the European Union and a long-term conflict over management of a natural lowland forest. The thesis argues that the proposed model of nature conservation policy in Poland provides a clear and balanced perspective on the interaction between agency, structure and culture in producing policy stability and change. Methodologically it avoids the conflation of agency and structure and structure and culture by supplementing the strategic and institutional analysis with ideational one. Informed by the morphogenetic approach, the thesis sheds light on the conceptual gaps in both historical institutionalism and the policy arrangement approach. It also represents the first practical attempt to apply the morphogenetic approach to the analysis of environmental policy. It is argued that the development of nature conservation policy in Poland was an effect of a combination of structural factors, such as socio-economic transformations, cultural factors, such as definition of what, how and where to protect, and strategic factors connected with activities of actors within the policy domain. Transition from communism to democracy and the EU accession enabled civil society actors to operate and publicly demand conservation measures as well as to form coalitions with supra-national actors to mobilise and influence national governments. This, together with a rapid professionalization and changing discourses enabled civil society actors to increase their political capacity and, in the case of conflicts between infrastructure development and nature conservation, reach an institutional tipping point, starting a new dependency path of a more multi-level and participatory policymaking. The institutional tipping point has not been reached in the conflict between biodiversity conservation and commercial forestry. Civil society actors gradually managed to improve conservation status of the Bialowieza Forest but lost the struggle for the most ~ effective type of protection. This resulted from the domination of foresters in the policy domain and their alliance with local authorities. Their political capacity was high enough to maintain status quo and retain the existing policy path concerning the Bialowieia Forest. Empirical contributions of the thesis include presentation of the long-term account of conflicts related to protected areas in one of the Central and Eastern European countries, taking into account several external shocks to the policy domain caused by socio-economic transformations and ideational changes affecting the conflicts over almost a century. It reveals a political character of nature conservation conflicts and dynamic interactions between local conflicts and national level policy-making. It is argued that nature conservation policy increasingly displays multi-level and governance characteristics, and that this process has been especially spurred by the EU accession. New policy arrangements have increased capacity and legitimacy in the implementation of the European Union rules. Still, there are sub-domains which remain insulated from these trends.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available