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Participation in protected areas: a social network case study in Catalonia, Spain

Laura Calvet-Mir, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain; Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat AutÚnoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Sara Maestre-Andrťs, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat AutÚnoma de Barcelona
Josť Luis Molina, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Universitat AutÚnoma de Barcelona
Jeroen van den Bergh, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat AutÚnoma de Barcelona; ICREA, Barcelona, Spain; Faculty of Economics and Business Administration and Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam


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Local participation of stakeholders in governance of protected areas is considered to be important to natural resource management and biodiversity conservation. Social network analysis (SNA) is a useful tool for analysis because it allows the understanding of stakeholders’ relationships, interactions, and influences through communication networks. We combine quantitative and qualitative data to undertake a SNA for the natural park of Sant Llorenç del Munt in Catalonia, Spain. This is aimed at (1) assessing the structure of the communication network; (2) comparing the informal communication network with the formal participatory bodies of the natural park; and (3) selecting participants for subsequent analyses of the adequate governance structure of the natural park. The results suggest that an informal network of communication, which is reasonably well represented in participatory bodies, exists. However, this communication network is not functioning perfectly because stakeholders experience a lack of trust in the governance bodies of the park, which they perceive to be ineffective. Our results show that SNA is an effective tool to support the creation of a broad representation of stakeholders in participatory processes.

Key words

communication network; natural resource governance; resource management; social network analysis; stakeholder analysis.

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087