This paper critically engages with the role of conservation practitioners as ‘expert intermediaries’ in the development of payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes in the UK. Centring on the case study of the Wildlife Trust’s Pumlumon Project in Mid Wales, the paper connects the advance of neoliberal governance strategies to the experiences and attitudes of conservationists, charting a more personalised geography of how PES has gained traction here, beyond its dissemination as an anonymous discourse or top-down imposition. In methodological terms, the paper combines ethnography with the insights of governmentality in order to demonstrate how conservationists have made sense of, and subsequently engaged with processes of neoliberalisation. This is set out as a means to attain a grounded perspective on the advancement of PES, but equally to appreciate how the hegemony of market-style governance is accepted and advanced by the conservationists involved.
- Payments for ecosystem services
- Neoliberal governmentality
- Expert intermediaries