Addressing the gap between participatory ideals and the reality of environmental management: The case of the cormorant population in Finland

Kenneth Nordberg, Pekka Salmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Environmental management, similar to public management generally, is increasingly

challenged by an ever more complex society. Generally, in scientific literature, participatory

features are presented as solutions for adapting centrally steered management

to local circumstances and for mitigating conflicts. This article argues that

local realities and transformations are easily neglected in environmental management

due to unsuccessful implementation of its own participatory ideals. By studying the

management of cormorant–human conflicts in Finland, the article identifies critical

features that can be implemented to overcome the gap between participatory ideals

and the reality of environmental management. By interviewing locals and civil

servants and by directing questionnaires to fishers, the article presents how management

and science look for dependencies between cormorants, fish stocks, and water

nutrition, although fishers and locals are primarily concerned with the combination of

seal‐ and cormorant‐induced damages, the changed behaviour of fish, and reduced

recreational possibilities. Narrow scientific approaches and the national interpretation

of the EU Birds directive thereby impede the management system from perceiving

the complete local impact of a growing cormorant population. This article identifies

obstacles hindering a balanced environmental management policy and concludes that

there is a need to reinforce (a) social scientific approaches; (b) vertical negotiations at

the local, national, and supranational level; and (c) the training of civil servants as

facilitators of communication.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)251–261
JournalEnvironmental Policy and Governance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • postproductivism
  • deliberative democracy
  • environmental management
  • participation
  • fisheries management

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