Large-scale natural resource conservation initiatives are increasingly adopting a network governance framework to respond to the ecological, social, and political challenges of contemporary environmental governance. A network approach offers new modes of management that allow resource managers and others to transcend a single institution, organization, resource, or landscape and engage in conservation that is multi-species and multi-jurisdictional. However, there are challenges to network governance in large-scale conservation efforts, which we address by focusing on how special interests can capture networks and shape the goals, objectives, and outcomes of initiatives. The term “network capture” is used here to describe an array of strategies that direct the processes and outcomes of large-scale initiatives in ways that advance a group's positions, concerns, or economic interests. We outline how new stakeholders emerge from these management processes, and how the ease of information sharing can blur stakeholder positions and lead to competing knowledge claims. We conclude by reasserting the benefits of network governance while acknowledging the unique challenges that networks present.
Read the full article in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.