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Wild Deer, Multivalence and Institutional Adaptation: The Deer Management Group in Britain

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Fiorini, S.; Yearley, S.; Dandy, N.
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/338
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Europe
Subject(s): wildlife
Abstract: "In Britain, wild deer can be conceptualised as a commons, although a complex institutional structure - founded largely upon land- ownership and notions of stalking rights - has evolved over several hundred years to regulate access to this resource. In recent decades, however, a number of socio-political, economic and ecological factors have fundamentally altered the nature of wild deer as a resource, introducing new impacts along with new interactions between them, their environment and an increasing variety of stakeholders. These drivers include, amongst others, mounting interest in the preservation of woodland habitats, agricultural reform and rising levels of traffic on British roads. Drawing upon evidence gathered through interview and case-study research, this paper investigates how established institutional arrangements have reacted to this increasingly multifunctional resource. "Specifically, this paper considers the 'Deer Management Group' (DMG). DMGs have existed for many years, in a variety of forms and with diverse memberships. They are primarily a response to the mobility of deer, which causes the animals to cross jurisdictions and boundaries thus demanding collaboration between neighbours, particularly landowners and their deer managers. Levels of collaboration, however, vary greatly. As the multivalence of wild deer is increasingly acknowledged, greater numbers and variety of stakeholders may demand a say in deer management. This paper shows how newly emergent stakeholders seek to engage with, influence and/or bypass existing institutions - including DMGs - and how the existing institutions adapt to the multivalence of this particular resource and/or can be used to define the boundaries of legitimate engagement with the resource. We conclude by considering how well DMGs 'deliver' multivalence."

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