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Deconstructing ecosystem services: Uncertainties and controversies around a socially constructed concept

Barnaud C., Antona M.. 2014. Geoforum, 56 : p. 113-123.

Because of its success, the concept of ecosystem services (ES) is increasingly taken for granted, without sufficient questioning of the strong uncertainties and controversies that surround it. In this paper, we consider this concept as socially constructed and we analyze the surrounding controversies in order to decipher the process through which it is constructed. From a literature review, we identify five main domains of controversies: (i) scientific uncertainties relating to causal relationships that underlie ES production, (ii) multiple understandings of the very concept of ES due to different representations of human-nature relationships, (iii) diverging opinions regarding the idea of valuing ES and the notion of value itself, (iv) conflicts of interests, power plays, and scale issues associated with the management of ES, and (v) controversies around the policy tools derived from the ES concept. In conclusion, we advocate for a greater engagement of human geographers in these debates. We emphasize in particular the need to study the complex social interdependences underlying ES dynamics, and to engage in participatory research exploring the potential of collaborative options for the management of ES. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : approches participatives; géographe; Évaluation de l'impact; organisation socioéconomique; Écologie; service; sociologie; système de valeurs; efficacité; politique de l'environnement; Épistémologie; service environnemental; recherche participative

Thématique : Conservation de la nature et ressources foncières; Sociologie rurale et sécurité sociale; Méthodes de recherche

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