The University of Arizona

Local farmers vs. environmental universalism: conflicts over nature conservation in the Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini, Italy

Sandro Piermattei


Italy has suffered severe depopulation of its mountains over the past six decades. National and European environmental legislation has been aiming to arrest depopulation by promoting local economic development as well as nature conservation. Cultural and social struggles remain between managers of the protected areas and local populations. By exploring the conflict in the Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini, a protected area in the Central Apennines, this work reveals how professional ecologists seem to conceive a universalistic form of possession and management of nature that excludes local traditional uses and knowledge. The needs and expectations of the local communities are overlooked and the bureaucratized forms of nature protection, in addition to the continuous, strenuous political negotiations between the park and the local administrations, tend to nourish feelings of disillusion and hostility towards the park. Perhaps, the time has come to affirm a principle of democracy of knowledge and the need for a participative political ecology.

Key words: European protected areas; mountain areas; depopulation; community; agriculture. 

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