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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 161-171

Conservation's All about Having a Blether and Getting People on Board: Exploring Cooperation for Conservation in Scotland

School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Correspondence Address:
Sam Staddon
School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
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Source of Support: The research was part-funded through a University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences RIGLE Small Grant., Conflict of Interest: The author declares no competing interests in the conduct of this research.

DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_20_58

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A 'blether' is a colloquial Scottish term signifying 'a lengthy chat between friends', and this paper draws its inspiration from the conservationist who suggested that 'having a blether' and 'getting people on board' is what conservation is all about. Contributing to scholarship on conservation conflict and on convivial conservation, this paper explores the 'who', 'where' and 'when' of 'having a blether', seeking to understand what might cultivate and contribute to cooperative relations between conservationists and other land-managers. It draws on feminist political ecology and anthropologies of conservation to provide a framework with which to unpack the personal, spatial and temporal dimensions of conservation relationships, and applies this to a case study in the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. Considering the 'who' in conservation relations, led to looking beyond professional affiliations to highlight the importance of intersectional identities and interests, as expressed through personal connections and emotions. Considering the 'where' of cooperation for conservation, so-called 'informal' and 'everyday spaces' were found to be highly significant as shared sites in which productive relationships can be built. Considering the 'when' of conservation relations revealed their emergent nature, and of the building of understanding and appreciation through shared pasts and experiences. This paper promotes the need to open up and move beyond stereotyped stakeholder groups, to consider what promotes not only commonalities but also appreciation of differences. It also draws attention to the political and structural forces that mediate conservation relations and shutdown opportunities for greater cooperation and inclusivity. Ultimately, this paper highlights the need for dialogue and for listening to diverse others with care and attention, seeing the ideal and practice of 'having a blether' and 'getting people on board' as a way to promote cooperative – or convivial – conservation.

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