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Shaking Hands: Balancing Tensions in the Swedish Forested Landscape

Journal article
Authors Annelie Sjölander Lindqvist
Camilla Sandström
Published in Conservation and Society
Volume 17
Issue 4
Pages 319-330
ISSN 0972-4923
Publication year 2019
Published at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
School of Global Studies
Pages 319-330
Language en
Keywords collaboration, wildlife, governance, cultural meaning, conflict, agreement
Subject categories Social Anthropology


Wild ungulates play a key role in the management and governance of Swedish wildlife. They are primarily harvested for meat, but are also important for non-consumptive uses of wildlife such as recreation. However, due to browsing and crop raiding, ungulates also reduce the forest’s economic value and make it difficult for farmers to maintain agricultural practices. While current policies and regulations clearly indicate that wildlife is to be treated as a valuable, others may disagree. This setting provided an opportunity to study the search for mutually acceptable outcomes and working relationships in parallel to the state-regulated management arrangements. The shared and disputed issues in the studied case echo the broader issues of entitlement to resources and value transformation that can stabilise but also disturb or even disrupt environmental management. The diverging interests, claims and experiences of forestry, hunting, farming, recreation, and protection, expressed in their own voices and consolidated into narratives about land, land use, and rights and obligations, can be seen as an important driver of collective action. The connections between the experiences of and the dynamics behind the decision to collaborate reveal a contested space in which the commercial wood industries, agriculture, the decentralised state, conservation, and recreational interests are all involved and must negotiate with one-another to secure their interests. The participants justify their actions symbolically, referring to an idiom of rights, the construct of forestry’s importance for the public good, and the desire to be resourceful and authoritative outside the framework of state action.

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