Game Theory with Real Game: engaging with deer and biodiversity in the UK
Genomics Forum University of Edinburgh Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
This paper reports novel research on engagement and collaborative management of wild deer in Scotland and in England & Wales (it is primarily funded by the UK Research Councils´ RELU programme). Deer numbers in the UK are rising, and in the UK context deer are unusual as large animals that typically roam over the property of several landowners. They impact on biodiversity conservation, but also have significant economic and job-creating value (primarily for stalking [traditional forms of hunting]) and they have important cultural standing too.
The paper starts by examining the complicated interaction between patterns of land ownership and changes in the way that deer and their biodiversity impacts are valued. These interactions give rise to competition and conflicts in much the way that classic game-theory problems do. The analysis goes on to assess how stakeholder engagement and collaborative practices can allow stakeholders to respond in new ways to the problems in their handling of wild game. For example, collaborative mapping techniques and scenario analyses can allow actors to model their own and neighbours´ responses and see what the consequences of innovative policy options may be. The study thus represents an empirically rich and policy-significant example of stakeholder engagement in the politics of biodiversity.