Thicker than water : exploring values among actors sharing a water body for effective management : the case of Lake Ringsjön

University essay from Lunds universitet/LUCSUS

Abstract: The underlying values people hold in relation to the environment is an important aspect to consider when natural areas are shared. These underlying values, so called value orientations, and differences in values directed towards a natural phenomenon can impact views on suitable management, lead to disagreements and even conflict. Understanding of the diverse aspects people value can therefore be important for finding appropriate management options. Water is one of our most important elements, but due to its particular characteristics and the importance, it is also one of the most difficult to manage and conflicts commonly occur in relation to water. The aim of this thesis is to explore values that actors, sharing a water body, describe in relation to water. This to, in extension, investigate the implications for future management, for avoiding conflict and for increasing the ability to cooperate. In order to explore values I developed a framework including a range of ‘environmental values’. By using Lake Ringsjön, in Scania County, Sweden as a case, I conducted semi-structured interviews with actors who are related to some activity in the area. The findings show a variety of values in relation to water and both differences and similarities in the actors value orientation. Additionally, different ways of describing the term ‘value’ was seen among the actors. While caring for a healthy water was commonly expressed, the underlying reasons varied, which can be related to the individual’s values. Further, the actors showed different views on each other’s practices and several respondents viewed their organisation as misunderstood. These factors indicate that communication among the actors can be improved, an aspect where values can assist to facilitate such communication. Insights on values does not solve conflict or lead to more effective management per se, but it can serve as a basis for understanding difficulties in reaching agreements and pinpoint areas where there might be resistance in order to find solutions that are seen as legitimate for all parties involved. Bringing in ‘environmental values’ into practical water management on a local level can give insights to the character of humanenvironmental interactions and contribute to a sustainable water management for humans and nonhuman species.

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