Investigating the barriers to adopting a ‘human-in-nature’ view in Greek biodiversity conservation

Evangelia Apostolopoulou*, Evangelia G. Drakou, Francesca Santoro, John D. Pantis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Recent decades have seen significant steps in the longstanding scientific, philosophical and political debates concerning the relationship between society and nature towards a more 'human-in-nature' view in biodiversity conservation. This progress has been reflected in both prominent scientific publications and several policy documents. However, the recent resurgence of 'protection' paradigms and the persistence of human practices undermining ecosystem functions on which human existence depends reveal that human and natural systems frequently continue to be treated separately in conservation practice and conventional scientific and policy discourses. Using insights from the field of political ecology and from research on social-ecological systems, and following a grounded theory research approach, we identify the critical barriers to the adoption of a 'human-in-nature' view in Greek biodiversity conservation. In particular, the analysis of 63 in-depth interviews with a variety of state and non-state stakeholders acting at several governance levels revealed as main barriers the lack of an integrative perspective on humans and ecosystems, scale mismatches between social and ecological systems, the underestimation of the heterogeneity of social groups, and the understanding of the reliance on the market as the main solution to biodiversity loss.We argue that steps towards ensuring environmental justice as well as socially inclusive and adaptive governance processes should embrace an understanding of both the dynamic nature of ecosystems and the power-laden character of the socio-economic systems involved in biodiversity conservation in order to create the preconditions for the emergence of social-ecological sustainability and ultimately for a 'human-in-nature' view.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-525
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive governance
  • Political ecology
  • Power
  • Protected areas
  • Scale
  • Social-ecological systems
  • Sustainability


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