Evans, James Philip Martin (2003)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This thesis develops a multi-scalar political ecology of biodiversity conservation on brownfield sites in Birmingham, U.K. While urban brownfield biodiversity is increasingly recognised as a valuable resource, political pressure to develop such spaces is also growing. Forty-five interviews were conducted with practitioners and policy makers, supported by genealogical and discursive analyses of a range of texts, to interrogate this tension. Common discourses structuring ecological, conservation and planning activities are traced across national and international levels, to contextualise the formulation and implementation of biodiversity action plans at the local level. Because urban landscapes are characterised by disequilibrium, planning policies and ecological models under-represent the worth of these spaces. The mediation of these discourses through local networks of actors engaged in the biodiversity action plan process is explored socially and geographically. A scalar political ecology of urban planning is developed through the consideration of wildlife corridors, and a case study of a specific brownfield site. The thesis offers an integrative analysis of socioecological transformation, and urban ecological governance. It is argued that while the BAP process has the potential to reconfigure urban geographies, it is currently sterile because such forms of sustainable governance contradict the dominant ‘scalar fix’ of capitalism.
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