Using Conservation Conflict Transformation as a Framework to Address Social Conflict Over Wildlife in a Swedish County
In Europe, and throughout the world, the return and preservation of large carnivores is escalating tensions between stakeholder groups, as well as between local actors and authorities. While wolf conservation efforts have generally been accepted across Swedish authorities, nature organizations, and the public, there are others who argue that the preservation of wolves is threatening local values and traditions. Despite policies aimed to reduce conflict surrounding wildlife management in Sweden, tensions seem to have intensified. This research aims to investigate conflict regarding wildlife management in Sweden with a focus on the county of Västra Götaland, done through interviews with different levels of wildlife management. This research asks what an analysis of wildlife management says about whether the current collaborative governance model favors conflict resolution or not? Additionally, the research asks how an analysis of the conflict using the Conservation Conflict Transformation (CCT) framework can contribute to transforming the conflict? An abductive approach using the CCT framework and Human Needs Theory was used to assess the human dimensions that could be driving conflict, and to provide a framework for practical next steps. Guided by a theoretical framework that focuses on addressing human needs to resolve deep-rooted conflicts, the results revealed that missing factors such as influence, trust, reasoned debate, and legitimacy are influencing the controversy surrounding wildlife management. A process that addresses the underlying drivers of conflict - amongst authorities and a wider range of affected stakeholders - is necessary to reconcile differences and establish a more sustainable, effective wildlife management structure.