Can agriculture and conservation be compatible in a coastal wetland? Balancing stakeholders’ narratives and interactions in the management of El Hondo Natural Park, Spain

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Springer Nature
Coastal wetlands are among the most productive and valuable ecosystems worldwide, although one of the main factors affecting their survival is the coexistence between agriculture and conservation. This paper analyses the complex balance between agriculture and conservation coexistence in El Hondo Natural Park (Alicante, Spain) coastal wetland by examining stakeholders’ narratives, perceptions, and interactions. The aim is to highlight the concurrence between socio-economic progress and socio-environmental justice perspectives by identifying those driving factors motivating stakeholders’ conflicts while expanding stakeholders’ behaviour and interaction when discussing the current and future management of this socio-ecological system. Data were collected between April and June 2019 from semi-structured interviews and questionnaires to river basin authorities, regional governments, municipalities, irrigation communities, union farms, regional and local ecologist groups, and social movements; and scrutinized through qualitative data analysis and descriptive statistics. Stakeholders discussed the main driving factors identified through the local newspapers to motivating current conflicts and confronting perspectives in El Hondo Natural Park: (1) the origin and evolution of the coastal wetland, (2) the provision and value of ecosystem services, (3) the management of water scarcity and water quality standards, (4) the guarantee and management of public and private investment, and (5) consequences of a natural park declaration. Likewise, the triple-loop analysis of stakeholders’ representativeness, relevance and collaboration highlighted examples of stakeholders’ underrepresentation and power imbalance, a negative assessment of the stakeholders’ actions, and how agreements are based on both stakeholders’ predisposition to collaborate and affinity.
© The Author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Agriculture and Human Values, 2022, available online at: . Keywords: coastal wetland; agriculture; conservation; decision-making process; El Hondo Natural Park; Spain.
Ricart, S., Rico-Amorós, A.M. Can agriculture and conservation be compatible in a coastal wetland? Balancing stakeholders’ narratives and interactions in the management of El Hondo Natural Park, Spain. Agric Hum Values 39, 589–604 (2022).