Patronage, contextual flexibility and organisational innovation in Lebanese protected areas management
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The Lebanese Shouf Biosphere Reserve (SBR) counts among the most successful Middle Eastern conservation projects today. This article describes the evolution and contemporary management of conservation in Shouf. Using SBR as the empirical foci it argues that mobilisation of customary political hierarchies to secure environmental protection is not bound to impede conservation agendas as suggested by Kingston (2001), but rather provided the SBR with managerial flexibility under a weak state. The case study shows how new environmental agendas articulated with traditional political regimes in building novel, stable institutions. From these emerged contextually flexible solutions for mediating resources and negotiating nature. The Shouf's particular clientelist political structure gave rise to networks simultaneously civic and part of the Lebanese state. Explaining the apparent stability of conservation practice in Shouf requires shifting analytical frames away from polarised debates either for or against the roles of state, civil society, and patronage in conservation.