Transparency in conservation: rare species, secret files, and democracy
In many areas of environmental policy, there are clashing trends and con- flicting views concerning the accessibility of information and its appropriate use. Some countries restrict access to environmental information if access compromises the protection of species, but this contrasts with environmen- talist claims for transparency, the right to know, and the creation of the ‘green public sphere’. Can access to (biodiversity) information ever be justifiably denied? The paradoxical trends in environmental policy can be explained in terms of the dual role of information: as much as it contributes to environmental causes, it simultaneously enables people to utilise or destroy the objects of preservation. While recognising the problematic nature of restricting transparency, epistemic asymmetries – the kind of case in which public authorities have access to such information to which the public is denied access – can sometimes be justified in terms of security.