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Are National Parks Inherently Unequal? The 2006 French Park Reform and its Initial Implementation in Mainland France

  • Deldrève, Valérie
  • Claeys, Cécilia
Publication Date
Aug 31, 2016
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In France, like in other parts of the world, environmental-protection policies appear to have taken note of local resistance driven by the eviction of populations and restrictions on their use of certain areas. The amendment to the law on French national parks (2006 reform) as such recognized that local populations can help to protect natural environments, as well as their right to participate in defining the charter (or spatial plan) of new parks. This article analyses the creation and local acceptance of the Calanques National Park, a peri-urban park and the first of a new generation of parks in mainland France. Our approach is based on the analytical framework of environmental effort. Using a qualitative corpus of semi-structured interviews and direct observation, we explore three analytical axes. We begin by analyzing the consultation process conducted during the creation of the park. This points up inequalities in access to the public sphere and underscores that only a few, well-endowed user-organizations truly helped define the " good use " of the Calanques that became a reference in the park's charter. Then we examine how such unequal user participation impacted the wording used in the charter and the distribution of environmental effort demanded of different users. Lastly, the first two observations lead us to question the acceptability of the effort required and its division among users, particularly since the consultation process has been strongly criticized. We question how fairly the effort required by the park's creation was distributed, particularly given the lack of information and limited legitimacy afforded to the consultation process. Finally, we look at the blaming that has taken place amongst different users of the park – a process compounded for many of those interviewed by their fear of being deprived (unjustifiably, they felt) of their freedom to access nature

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