The social nature of urban nature : a qualitative study linking value articulation and contested geographies in Santiago de Cali, Colombia

María Mejía
This research applies "The social production of ecosystem services: A framework for studying environmental justice and ecological complexity in urbanized landscapes" (Ernstson, 2013) in the city of Santiago de Cali, Colombia. Broadly speaking, theframework was inspired by the increasing evidence on civil efforts to protect nature in cities—different from top-down and elite-oriented conventional conservation measures. However, this is only half of the story. Ernstson devotes special attention to
more » ... power relations as they lie at the heart of such protective narratives, implying that certain voices—or values—will prevail upon others. Secondly, place-based struggles develop in a wider context: the city, understood here as an ecological network enabled by complex ecological processes that unfold across nodes and links. And importantly, those ecological processes are susceptible to day-to-day practices on site. Taken together, both analytical modes—value articulation and the ecological network perspective—make evident the role humans play in the generation and distribution of ecosystem services, but most importantly it raises the question of who can actually take part into these value-creating processes. This research therefore approaches the ecology of cities as a testimony of relational1 rather than pre-determined dimensions (ecological units distributing ecosystem services on equal basis) and as a result of how power operates locally. Few such studies have been done Colombian cities. To this end, two case-studies were carried out in sites where communities of opposite income levels live—a river and a wetland. Questions analyzed across case-studies were: (i) how actors constructed and hierarchized values towards nature; (ii) what artifacts and social arenas did they appeal to in order to legitimize their protective narrative; and (iii) how these place-based struggles impacted the generation and distribution of ecosystem services city-wide. Data collection was based on qualitative interviews, participatory observations, [...]
doi:10.15495/epub_ubt_00004520 fatcat:jxh5jchymbbubhppsyq2cbzq2e