Though political ecology as sub-field spanning various disciplines is rapidly broadening to analyze ever more activities and socio-natures the spaces of tourism and leisure are rarely mentioned in such inquiries, leading to a relative neglect of key aspects of contemporary capitalism. Tourism- and leisure industries' role in the production, destruction, and appropriation of eco-systems remains surprisingly under-researched. In this presentation I address this relative gap, exploring how thinking through the spaces of high-end leisure as socio-ecologies constituted through their metabolic processes can help us to further understand crucial political ecology themes such as the relations between cities and the countryside, environmental governance and planning, and the power exertions involved in enacting these landscapes.
I utilize two case studies of spectacular golf developments, one in Sweden and one in Scotland, to address these issues. Bro Hof Slott, north of Stockholm, in 2007 became the first Swedish course in two decades to build immediately by the shoreline, gaining exemption from otherwise rigid beach protection laws. Trump International Golf Links along the North Sea coast in Aberdeenshire was one year later controversially allowed to erect a large-scale golf resort partly on land protected by environmental legislation. Combined these cases illuminate the radical revaluation and material transformation rural areas undergo as the countryside in the Global North is increasingly made into an arena for leisurely consumption, and the need to think through these spaces as political ecologies of topographic space itself as socio-natural resource.