Towards access for all? Policy and research on access of ethnic minority groups to natural areas in four European countries
Migration and growing ethnic diversity pose new questions for forest and nature policy and research, especially on the equality of access to natural areas. This paper compares national approaches in policy and research on ethnic minority groups' access to natural areas in four Western-European countries: the United Kingdom (UK), The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. It shows that powerful linkages exist between immigration history, national research traditions and national policy regarding the attention given to this issue, the topics of interest and the ethnicity categories used. The main forest and nature policy documents in The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark address issues of access to nature generally, while in the UK reducing discrimination of ethnic minority groups in access to nature is a formalised objective to be addressed by public bodies. Research in the UK focuses on evidences of under-representation, discrimination and barriers to access. In turn, German and Danish research emphasises different recreational uses of ethnic groups and is less oriented towards the implementation of targeted management objectives. The Netherlands occupy an intermediary position. We argue that international exchange of scientific results and cross-national studies could improve our understanding of cultural differences in recreational patterns, experiences, barriers, images of nature, and planning and design strategies.
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