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Nature-Society Hybrids

Modern society becomes more concerned about ecology. The reason for this is various evidence of manmade harmful impact on the natural environment. Among the typical examples of such influence, one can name enormous industrial emissions, water pollution, inability to recycle plastic wastes and other aspects. Therefore, the predominant characteristic of relationship between a civilized community and nature has become mostly negative. Thus, activists of different environmental movements mainly pursue the aim of restricting the access of people to natural ecological ecosystems. The major reason for this is the protection of environment from the negative consequences of human-caused changes. However, modern views on ecology tend to dissent from this presumption. On the contrary, they seek for the introduction of advanced practices, which allow creating a symbiosis of nature and people. Moreover, such integration of environment and society, called a nature-society hybrid (NSH), is believed to be promising as it brings benefits to both people and nature. That is why it is necessary to do an analysis of one of the studies connected with the issue of NSH. It involves a discussion of political aspects, which are caused by the need for regulation of NSH related to the area of British Columbia in Canada. This analysis would enhance the understanding of this theory as well as allow estimating the level of its validity and practical applicability. Therefore, such practices increase the awareness of the issues, which are inevitably connected when discussing the need for the introduction of nature-society hybrid policies.

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Defining a Nature-Society Hybrid

It is necessary to provide an adequate definition of a natural-society hybrid before characterizing any particular issue involving it. Thus, scholars define it as an ecosystem, which is characterized by the confluence of human and biophysical forces that shape landscapes once thought as natural. Consequently, the basic aim of natural-society hybrids is resource management, nature protection, and environmental restoration. They form a unity of social and environmental policies, which “impart a distinct flavor to the reworkings of such chief features as territory, scale, boundaries, and conservation/degradation linkages”. Saying “policies” one bears in mind generally agreed-upon and enforced prescriptions that require, forbid, or permit specific actions for more than a single individual. At the same time, the formation of NSH requires significant efforts from the communities. Such difficulties are caused by the wide range of stakeholders involved in the programs, which influence the ecology and the society. These parties are affected by manipulations with resources that may be used inappropriately undermining the livelihood of others. On the one hand, they include the representatives of natural habitat as well as plants and land resources, which are the typical members of any natural ecosystem. On the other hand, the social component of NSH comprises farmers, landowners, private companies as well as citizens and governments. The concerns of the community and the stakeholders are valid because the initiatives in NSH formation may involve enormous changes of human and natural habitat. Among them are multiple social and economic dimensions, consumption patterns transformations, rural enterprise development, changes in land use, technology and other. That is why such initiatives deal with plenty of common property issues such as common-pool resources and regimes, which set requirements in proper administrative and political regulations. Therefore, policies that propose certain NSH activities and their regulations require consideration of various property regimes as well as a considerable distribution of resources. Further analysis of regulation of NSH initiatives related to the area of British Columbia in Canada reveals the complexity of this process and the scope of social and environmental consequences.

Analysis of the Article

The selected article analyzes NSH initiatives regarding the area of British Columbia, Canada, as well as their numerous consequences and further social discussions. The opinion of the author is that, despite the promising policies regarding the management of natural habitat and the nearby social groups, they appeared to be a “disappointment”. The initial point for the debates was the need for the protection of a large area of the coastal rainforest from human impact, which took a period of approximately ten years. Its result was the agreement forming a coalition of such environmental organizations as First Nations, the coastal forest industry, and the Provincial government. Its general purpose was a protection of the area of 2 million hectares with further development of the principles of management based on the regulation of the selected ecosystem. Additionally, it resulted in a substantial change in land use policies, which attempted to meet the needs of the indicated stakeholders. The accepted initiative claimed to protect approximately 33% per cent of the forest area from logging. The stakeholders representing a woodcutting industry were protected by the agreement as well, as it included a considerable rise in the prices for their products. This measure allowed them having credibility from environmental organizations and being shielded from their critique and social protests. At the same time, the local government became more involved into planning and decision-making procedures related to the land use. Additionally, the agreement formed a fund of 120 million Canadian dollars, which guaranteed its economic validity.

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However, further discussions of the analyzed initiative indicated that it failed to meet the requirements of the majority of environmental organizations. Thus, their typical claims were that the policy lacked considerable measures in the conservation of the habitat putting political and economic interests before science and ecological purposes. Likewise, the critiques of the social aspect of the initiative asserted that the process lacked transparency and involvement of the representatives of local communities. Additionally, a peculiar group of protesters argued that the NSH activities failed to protect grizzly bear habitat, and left predominant salmon streams unprotected. Therefore, the initiative created a controversial effect, which was caused by its promising perspectives and weak factual credibility. In general, its major problem was that it backed up the economic and political interests of industrial and governmental representatives.

Moreover, specialists in science and politics highlight another critical aspect, which is important regarding the initiatives of formation of NHS. This issue is the general flaw of the representatives of environmental movements that is caused by the fact that they deal more with ecosystems rather than politics. Furthermore, the ecology movements “position themselves on the political chessboard without redrawing its squares, without redefining the rules of the game, without redesigning the pawns”. Consequently, it is evident that every stakeholder participating in the initiative failed to realize the complexity of the nature of NSH. As identified by the scholars, their attitude “ignores the multi-linear, surprising, and chaotic characteristics of social/nature hybrids and overlooks the spiral loops of explanation in nature/society relationships”. Likewise, the initiative involved the issue of property rights mainly backing up the rights of the industry and the local government. However, it is an undeniable fact that the scope of the property legislation is significantly broader because it includes the rights of “nature and culture, humans and non-humans”. As a result, the discussed policy failed to meet its general aim, which was creating a unity preserving the rights and freedoms of every involved stakeholder. Therefore, the representatives of the governments and industries should consider the experiences and the consequences of the initiatives that pursue the formation of nature-society hybrids. Their major constraint is that they involve various stakeholders, which causes an advanced discussion of freedoms and property rights. Avoiding these consequences is possible in the case the stakeholders raise their political and environmental competence. That is why there is a strong need for the initiatives allowing the participants sharing their experiences and skills. It would allow environmental activists raise their skills in policy-related issues as well as increase the environmental awareness among politicians.

Conclusion

Summarizing the presented information, the paper comes to a conclusion that nature-society hybrid is a complex phenomenon, which includes various critical aspects. Among them is the need for the preservation of the natural habitat as well as the social freedoms of nearby communities. Moreover, it is evident that such policies may undermine the rights of different stakeholders on the basis of the fact that some of them may have predominant political and financial power. At the same time, another critical aspect of the formation of NSH is the unawareness of its nature. Thus, the majority of the stakeholders fail to recognize the complex nature of NSH. The negative consequences of this fact are the length of the process of the discussion of the initiatives and their further malpractice features. The typical threat related to this issue is the abuse of the rights of particular stakeholders together with the neglect of the role of the environment. The evidence of the indicated processes is present in the discussed article, which explores the results of the NSH policy implemented in British Columbia in Canada. Consequently, the participants and stakeholders of NSH should raise their awareness of the character of NSH in order to avoid negative repercussions of their initiatives.

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