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Accepted Paper:

Livelihoods and protected sites: socio-ecological dimensions and challenges in Bulgaria. Conceptual framework and reflections from a research project  


Ivaylo Markov (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper problematizes the relations between protected sites – local communities – means of living in Bulgaria. It focuses on the socio-ecological dimensions and challenges, building on some preliminary observations and results of an ongoing research project.

Paper long abstract:

This paper proceeds from an ongoing research project “Life in protected zones and areas: challenges, conflicts, benefits”, supported by the National Science Fund of Bulgaria (КП-06-Н40/12). It studies the relations between protected sites – local communities – means of living in Bulgaria within the normative context of various conservation regimes: nationally designated protected areas, as well as protected zones, part of the European ecological network “NATURA 2000”, introduced in 2007.

The expansion of the conservation network during last several decades has been done through the inclusion of populated territories. Local communities, however, perceive their environment as a source of livelihoods, but also as a marker for their socio-cultural identity. In this respect, little is known about what is happening in the settlements (and/or their lands) within these protected sites, where people face new “post-industrial” concepts of conservation and are forced or encouraged to adapt their current economic and other everyday practices to the conservationist requirements.

Therefore, the paper will take a close look at the conceptual framework within which nature is considered as inhabited by man and, simultaneously, is analyzed as an emic category that various social actors (local communities and smaller groups, protected sites’ administration, nature conservation NGOs, etc.) use to express their attitudes and interpretations. This approach stems from the proposition that a tourist, a regional environmental inspector, a park ranger and a farmer can see the same place in a protected zone/area in totally different ways, highlight different things, give them different value, etc.

Panel P043a
Territories of Life: Wellsprings of Biocultural Relationship and Resurgence