Nature conservation constitutes an important realm of professional practice with strong connections to the discourses on nature and sustainability. In recent decades much of that discourse has taken an explicitly spatial turn, observable across numerous domains of ecological, social, and political thought (Williams et al., 2013; Wu, 2006). The aim of this chapter is to examine how spacing nature conservation, as a form of place-making, is transforming utilitarian natural resource management away from its formative roots in mid-nineteenth-century Newtonian and mechanistic explanations of natural processes and toward a geographically relational and networked view that better aligns with advances in the sustainability sciences and complex adaptive systems (CAS) thinking. The chapter builds on the premise that the geographic notion of place-making offers a valuable lens for addressing the unrelenting complexities and uncertainties inherent in CAS that otherwise make sustainability politics so intractable. Place-making helps to surface diverse sources of knowledge and differential and partial understandings and provides a framework for incorporating these different understandings into a more workable governance strategy. In the end, more adaptive and sustainable strategies for governing social-ecological systems can be realized by engaging diverse networks of human agents - variously positioned to perceive and value different natures - in some process of collective sense-making of a particular context or landscape.
Williams, Daniel R. 2018. Spacing conservation practice: Place-making, social learning, and adaptive governance in natural resource management [Chapter 15]. In: Marsden, Terry, ed. The SAGE Handbook of Nature, Three Volume Set. London, UK: SAGE Publishing. p. 285-303 (Volume 1).