Disentangling discourses and socio-ecological practices in Northern Patagonia, Chile: implications for national and regional policy-making

In places with a predominantly natural capital, development and environmental discourses are intertwined and often competing. In these places, productive sectors and rural livelihoods are mainly determined by the state of ecosystems as well as by policy-making processes and ecosystem management. In this context, this research will explore three different aspects to contribute to understanding of trade-offs between environmental and social considerations in regional policy- making in Northern Patagonia (Chile).

Firstly, I will analyse how environmental and development discourses are being framed and what the current and the future consequences for policy-making are. Secondly, I will investigate how different configurations of local practices are being shaped by the development of Northern Patagonia’s two main economic activities: aquaculture and nature-based tourism, where the material elements of practices are mainly represented by  ecosystem components and processes, which I term socio-ecological practices. Finally, I will explore the introduction of the ecosystem services concept, as a management tool within regional policy-making. The study will consist of four papers, and a final chapter with policy recommendations. These papers will mainly follow a qualitative approach, where semi-structured interviews and participant and non-participant observation will be the main data collection methods. Primary and secondary information will be analysed with coding and content analysis methodology. This research will be relevant for national and regional policy-making, where development issues and environmental concerns are often in conflict and where the incoming economic activities, such as aquaculture and tourism, trigger a reconfiguration of socio-ecological practices.

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