Keywords: socio-natural network, value of nature and conservation
The hypothesis of this paper is that the value conferred on nature designates both the "objects of nature" that are the subject of consideration, and the human beings for whom they are intended or who are responsible for them. These designation processes are dynamic and linked, but also interdependent. In order to examine these processes more closely, we make use of the concept of network, which integrates the action of different players in their specific world, as well as "objects" that can be as different as scientific nomenclatures, available sites, management plans, funds, etc. In other words, protection practices link up different universes, scientific models and practices, institutional practices, nature conservation practices and, finally, the evolution of species and natural sites that are not passive entities. The fact that we speak of "socio-natural" networks indicates that nature conservation is "based" on chains of equivalences that integrate these different players and universes. The processes are dynamic ones. The paper therefore examines how they can be stabilised or expanded, and also how they can be transformed in a much more radical manner. The study is applied to the Walloon Region (in Belgium). The paper first looks at what could be considered as the "classical nature conservation network", and then examines how it is called to evolve. The fact is that contemporary situations lead us to take account of different types of networks for conserving and maintaining nature. These are compared, and the paper examines how each of them attempts to take account of the increasingly complex and also increasingly open concept of biodiversity. This perspective of networking also leads us to conclude that none of these networks (scientific, economic, legislative, institutional, etc.) that go to make up nature conservation is capable on its own of giving value to nature. This is acquired - or not - only by building a hybrid chain that cuts across or integrates these different worlds.