Accepted Paper:

Welcoming migratory birds in urban parks. Mutual learning and adaptation.  


Marine Legrand (Muséum National D'histoire Naturelle)

Paper short abstract:

While biodiversity conservation policies start to affect urban areas, local authorities make landscape design choices aimed at cultivating an ecological heritage. Some landscapes tend to be shaped by the collaboration between parks managers and migratory birds, when the expected nesting of the birds becomes a source of political and economic benefit.

Paper long abstract:

The gradual switch from nature protection to biodiversity management, following the 1992 Rio conference, has led to a multiplication of public policies focused on ordinary wildlife management outside protected areas. In urban areas biodiversity conservation is integrated to urban planning, under the banner of the “urban ecology” movement. The introduction of biodiversity conservation in urban parks leads to new ways of engaging with natural entities in order to give them a place to stay in town alongside citydwellers. With the perspective of environmental anthropology, we conducted an ethnographic research in an urban park situated in the North East suburbs of the French capital, which welcomes more than two million visitors per year and also shelters rare bird species (wetland migratory herons, wood peckers, prey birds…). We based our study on participant observation and semi-directive interviews of workers, visitors, and scientific advisers of the local administration.

Focusing in the interactions between the actors involved in the technical choices concerning landscape management and the birds, we came to the conclusion that a form of collaboration takes place that imply mutual learning and adaptation: on the one hand, knowing the needs of the birds is necessary to give them good conditions to nest in order to “make” them come back them back every year, and thus guarantee institutional investment, and fight against real estate pressure. On the other hand, the birds learn from their urban experience and adapt to the context, showing behaviours that wouldn’t be expected from them in rural areas.

Panel P23
Collaboration and partnership in human-animal communities: reconsidering ways of learning and communication