The conservation “myths” we live by: Reimagining human-nature relationships within the Scottish marine policy context
There are growing calls for the articulation and consideration of different value systems and emotions in shaping conservation and natural resource management decisions and participatory resource governance. This requires recognition of the socio-cultural relations attached to landscape and seascape in marine conservation policy. Taking into account the relationship between the socio-natural environment and socio-political institutions and processes complicates conservation. Making human values and assumptions explicit within the conservation discourse reveals the inadequacy of conservation that is focused on a biodiversity that is framed only as other-than-human nature. This paper considers how the perceived separation between nature and culture underpinning conservation policy and practice exacerbated a conflict between members of a small Scottish island community and the Scottish Government around the creation of a marine protected area (MPA) off the coast of the island. A rich maritime heritage and a distinctive way of knowing the sea suggested the presence of embedded values that appeared to be colliding with values driving the MPA designation process. Social, historical and cultural forces have shaped the perceptions of landscape and seascape of many of the islanders and can help to explain the local resistance to the MPA. Visual participatory methods were used to explore local understandings of the meaning of conservation. The case-study offers insights into different ways in which marine spaces are conceptualised and how this relates to marine resource governance. It contributes to a more complete understanding of human relations with the marine environment in the context of a marine conservation conflict.