In order to prevent the decline of biodiversity and ensure the sustainable management of ecosystems, there is a need to understand the social and cultural processes which can directly or indirectly impact upon these systems. Changing - and highly divergen t - views of nature are probably among the most distinctive markers of cultural change in our time. Conflicts over land use and nature conservation generally seem to reach far beyond threatened economic interests and controversies over management practice s: they are indeed about wider processes of social change. We assume that people's cultural relations with animals comprise a reading grid for perceptions of nature and thus also for environmental problems. Not only the species themselves, but also human activities that affect animals, are at the centre of conflicts that appear to reach further into other social realms. A prime example is hunting. We will concentrate on the issue of hunting for the reasons outlined above, while by no means excluding gener al interpretations of wildlife and domestic animals in a landscape context. Our aim is to situate people's attitudes to animals and their "animal discourses" in a wider social and cultural context, and thus identify mechanisms that form or influence peop le's cognitive and physical interaction with the natural world. We will establish ?state of the art? through examination of the literature, and develop plans for empirical research involving researchers in Norway and France, and preferably also in other c ountries. Based on the literature review and discussions within the team, we will single out research issues that are scientifically relevant, and which also can provide policy makers, managers and NGOs with knowledge that is of practical use and may help them to diminish conflicts and build partnerships related to biodiversity management. Three meetings/workshops will be held throughout the project, starting September 2005.