Encountering Nonhuman Agency in National Park Management — ASN Events

Encountering Nonhuman Agency in National Park Management (13434)

Sarah Bell 1
  1. Geography and Environmental Science, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

This paper asks questions of what nonhuman agency can tell us about national park nature. Nonhuman agency is often written out of park management documents, policies and legislations. However if we think about where a fire spreads, what animals are baited, what plants survive and flourish and at the expense of which other species, and so on, it is clear that these processes of management are not completely within human control. Instead park management involves working with, against and alongside a number of more-than-human actors. Drawing on empirical research into Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, on the northern outskirts of Sydney, Australia, this paper explores the messy, more-than-human ways in which national park nature is performed on a daily basis. I focus on kangaroo and horse bodies to highlight how management and policy decisions and ideas of nativeness are brought into being through encounters of more-than-human actors that together help produce natures in Ku-ring-gai Chase. Through exploring Ku-ring-gai Chase as being full of nonhuman actors, this paper suggests that we can begin to look at park management differently, not as a universally good process of preserving nature, but a collection of more-than-human encounters that are constantly creating national park nature in unexpected and surprising ways.