New spaces for nature: the re-territorialisation of biodiversity conservation under neoliberalism in the UK



Biodiversity conservation is a fundamentally spatial practice. For more than a century, conservation's leading strategy has been the establishment of protected areas. Governance by the state has been central to conservation's claim to territory. In the UK, the established approach to biodiversity conservation concentrated on spatial strategies of territorialisation to secure particular outcomes in relatively small pieces of land, set aside as protected areas. However, this strategy has begun to change, and conservation's expanding territorial claims have been expressed through new models of large-scale conservation. A series of projects developed by non-governmental conservation organisations seek to extend conservation management over larger areas of land. In this paper we consider these developments as a form of re-territorialisation, a reframing and extension of conservation's spatial claims. We describe how conservation's ambitions have been reformed and extended and discuss evidence on the growth of large-scale biodiversity conservation projects in the UK. We then consider the implications of these changes in the light of the neoliberalisation of conservation.