Reconsidering the role of the built environment in human-wildlife interactions.

Published online
28 Oct 2021
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Serenari, C.
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In facing our greatest challenges, researchers have questioned where the 'wild things' will reside in the future, and large carnivores have been a primary focal area. The built environment plays a critical role in the propagation of countless species including carnivores; however, contemporary conceptualizations of human-nature relations do not satisfactorily attend to where the built environment should be placed within existing human-nature relation frameworks or how it impacts our ability to find space for carnivores. This paper fills this information gap by investigating the role of the built environment in social-ecological systems (SES), specifically wildlife and carnivore conservation. The paper unfolds in four stages: The first reviews empirical efforts to capture the relationship between human-natural-wildlife systems and the built environment. Second, using insights from the built environment literature, I argue that moving away from a common pool resource focus, decoupling wildlife and natural systems, investigating all infrastructure types and their interactions across systems, and considering the notion of hybrid systems offer pathways forward. Third, an explanation of the built environment's linkages to human and carnivore systems is undertaken to illustrate how the built environment facilitates the material and symbolic interactions through a blending of properties from human, wildlife and natural systems. Lastly, the argument is made that attending to the role of the built environment in human-wildlife relations can stimulate new research that reveals unhelpful habitual behaviour, feedbacks and barriers, and may also help explain unintended or unexplained consequences impacting human-carnivore relations not fully considered under existing frameworks.

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