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Title: Street level influences affecting implementation of an ecosystem approach within the North Devon UNESCO biosphere reserve
Author: Kirsop-Taylor, N.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7962 849X
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
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Implementing land management solutions that address the on-going decline global biodiversity decline remain a priority for all sectors of global environmental governance. Through their global network of biosphere reserves, the UNESCO man and biosphere programme provides global locations for testing these solutions to the global biodiversity crisis. One such solution being tested within biosphere reserves is the ecosystem approach of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The ecosystem approach provides a framework for action based upon the integration of ecological, social, and economic aspects of integrated management. However, research suggests that this ecosystem approach as a policy-notion of best practice integrated management remains significantly under implemented at all scales and in all states around the world. This thesis makes an original contribution to the ecosystem approach implementation literature by framing its implementation deficit through a political science lens and investigating implementation in-depth within an English biosphere reserve case study. This is the first dedicated investigation of implementation of an ecosystem approach with an English biosphere reserve. Based upon a review of the literature, individuals and organisations became the primary units of analysis for understanding the implementation deficit. In locating the locus of power for influencing implementation within this biosphere reserve, a modified version of Lipsky's street Level bureaucrat theory from the political science implementation theoretical tradition was utilised. By offering a 'thick', in-depth analysis of how the ecosystem approach is understood by the partnership members of the North Devon UNESCO biosphere reserve, this thesis presents a critical analysis about the policy implementation of an ecosystem approach. This research utilised a 'thick' qualitative research design to evaluate of how and why an ecosystem approach was being implemented within the case study biosphere reserve. This methodology was fundamentally structured around evaluation of the implementation of each of the twelve Malawi principles of an ecosystem approach. Data was collected through a mixed method approach of thirty semi-structured interviews with participants in the North Devon UNESCO biosphere reserve, through observation of four biosphere reserve partnership meetings, and through the review of nineteen policy documents and management plans. These were supplemented with ten elite interviews with national figures engaged in the policy transposition and implementation of the ecosystem approach. The qualitative data was thematically analysed against a series of pre-set codes leading to a number of emergent key themes driving implementation. Fundamentally the results found only sporadic participant conceptualisations of what an ecosystem approach is, and how to operationalise it, which supported other recent scholarly contributions to the discourse. It was also found that although the case study biosphere reserve was having some success in relation to implementing certain aspects of an ecosystem approach (prioritising ecosystem services), in others (balancing use and conservation) it was still facing challenges to implementation. Overall, it was found that the biosphere reserve was implementing a unique version of an ecosystem approach, which reflected its specific configuration of interests, legacy projects, local politics, and geography. The thematic analysis evaluating implementation of the twelve Malawi principles led to three distinct cross-cutting themes emerging from the qualitative date. These themes spoke to the fundamental essence of how and why implementation of this policy-notion was occurring at the street level. These three themes were distinct from each other based upon organisational size and composition and led to original and significant understandings about the implementation deficit. The findings and conclusions drawn from this research have ramifications to the literatures of political science and public administration. Furthermore, they have ramifications for how contemporary street level theory is conceptualised and utilised, as well as how regimes of global environmental governance are designed with street level implementers in mind.
Supervisor: Winter, D. M. ; Russel, D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ecosystem approach ; UNESCO ; Street level bureaucracy ; Convention on Biological Diversity ; North Devon biosphere reserve