New paper exploring the distribution of social impacts of Eifel National Park, Germany
This study investigates the diversity, extent, and social and spatial distribution of the social outcomes of the Eifel National Park in Germany and how these are linked with the level of public support for the park, as well as the effect of COVID-19 on these social impacts. Structured questionnaires were distributed to local residents living inside or near the national park. According to our study the national park is rated positively by the majority of respondents, and provides a range of benefits, but also costs, to local communities. There are also variations in how these impacts are distributed across different sub-communities, between residents and visitors, and across geographical locations in and around the park, and there is a significant relationship between local people’s perceptions of some social impacts and their level of support for the national park’s existence. Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that, whilst living in close proximity to the park enhances the quality of life of local residents, any future increases in tourism may need careful planning and management if they are not to erode local people’s quality of life. You can access the full paper here
New paper exploring the links between governance, social capital and support for Protected Areas
In this paper we run a structural equation model exploring how the interconnections between governance, social capital and social impacts can lead to higher levels of support for PAs using data from 3239 local residents in 10 PAs in Europe. Our analysis shows that the mediation effects of governance indicators, such as trust in institutions and level of public engagement, are important in explaining associations between an individual’s social profile and their perceived social impacts with public support. Our findings also provide a useful and operational framework for PA practitioners and researchers illuminating pathways to increase the level of public support for a PA. Full paper can be accessed here: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/acc95b/pdf
New paper exploring determinants of active and stated support
This paper explores local public support for nature protected areas (PAs) to identify primary social factors explaining support. The model was built and tested using survey data collected from approximately 2300 individuals living inside or near six Protected Areas in five different European countries using both face-to-face and online methods. Results show that perceived social impacts are a key and consistent predictor of the level of stated support, despite the wide range of potential impacts. Also important is the strength of a person’s sense of place attachment to the PA landscapes or area, as well as institutional trust. Other factors were only significant at some sites indicating the importance of local context. Results indicated that stated support is linked with pro-environmental behaviour when using the protected area, indicating the importance of supportive public attitudes for behaviour that is supportive of ecological effectiveness. The link between stated support and volunteering was less clear indicating that this is also influenced by other factors. The model is intended to inform theoretical understanding of the factors affecting public support, but also as a step towards developing a predictive tool for practitioners taking into consideration a broader range of factors in assessing public support and highlighting problem areas for action. As new ambitious biodiversity conservation targets are set internationally, our study will be useful for practitioners and researchers regarding what future management approaches and policies need to focus on in order to maximise public support, minimize conflicts in PAs and increase pro-environmental behaviour. You can access the whole paper here.
Kullaberg Nature Reserve: Exploring people's views and social outcomes of the nature reserve
Our latest report on people's views and social outcomes of Kullaberg Nature Reserve is now available. Kullaberg Nature Reserve is located in the north-west corner of Scania province in Sweden and has the status of protected area under the category V of the IUCN. The peninsula is surrounded by the mixed salt waters from Skagerraky and brackish waters of the Baltic Sea, which enables favorable conditions for the habitat of a unique marine and terrestrial flora and fauna. Our research showed that the nature reserve is of significant social value for local communities. Kullaberg provides benefits on a number of aspects especially considering people's quality of life and connectedness to nature. However, there are variations on how these impacts are perceived between communities depending on their geographical location. Kullaberg also has a very crucial role for a large part of the community on how they coped during the pandemic. You can access the full report here
Understanding Public Support for European Protected Areas
Protected Areas are the most widely applied policy tool for biodiversity conservation. In Europe, protected areas are expected to significantly increase as the new EU Biodiversity strategy sets an ambitious target of 30% of land and 30% of water to be protected by 2030. Despite the popularity of this environmental policy, understanding variations in the level of public support for protected areas remains underexplored. This is an important area of research, considering that, in order for protected areas to be effective, they need to be supported by most users, including local communities and visitors. In this paper, we reviewed theoretical and empirical evidence explaining the level of support for protected areas and proposed a new approach when designing and designating protected areas in Europe. This approach models the process of the introduction of a new protected area as a policy intervention within a socio-ecological system. Specifically, it models how protected area social outcomes or impacts are conditioned and contextualised by numerous intervening factors relating to the social context and governance and management system to influence local actors’ attitude and active support for the protected area. This new approach aims to assist policy makers, conservation practitioners and scientists to plan actions that assist in increasing the level of public support for protected areas in the context of the post 2020 Biodiversity Strategy of the European Union.
Nationalpark Schwarzwald (Black Forest National Park): Exploring the views of local residents on the national park
The Black Forest National Park covers an area of just over 10,000 hectares and is situated in Southwest Germany. Established in 2014, the park is a very popular tourist destination. It is estimated that annually over 800 000 visits the park to engage with activities such as cycling and walking. The park is surrounded by local communities which are directly influenced by its existence. It is estimated that roughly 3,000,000 people live in close proximity to the park (1.5 hours drive radius) and therefore may be able to readily access the Park. The designation of the park initially faced some resistance from local communities with concerns focusing mainly on restricted access to the land, a change in the accustomed cultural landscape and the fact that there would be restrictions in using certain parts of the forest. Currently new plans are being set for the park to be expanded, including by connecting the north and south part of the Black Forest. Given the important role of the park for local communities, the FIDELIO project organised a survey during May 2021 which aimed to capture:
- people’s views on the Black Forest National Park and the environment in general;
- the social impacts of the Black Forest National Park on locals and the distribution of impacts across different social groups (visitors/locals); and
- the impact of COVID-19 pandemic control measures on everyday life in the vicinity of the park.
Matsalu National Park: Exploring views of local communities regarding the social impacts of the national park and changes due to covid-19 on everyday life
As one of Europe's most important waterfowl feeding and resting areas between the Arctic and Western Europe, Matsalu National Park is a true paradise for bird lovers. In addition to birds, the Park also protects the semi-natural habitats characteristic of Western Estonia and the cultural heritage of Väinameri Sea, such as coastal and flood meadows, alvars and wooded meadows, reed beds and small islands. In addition to eco-tourism, fishery and livestock farming are also an important source of income and way of lifestyle for Matsalu`s local communities. This report presents the results of an online survey distributed during October-November 2020 to local communities living inside or near the Matsalu National Park as part of the project FIDELIO. The questionnaire was the result of a collaboration between researchers from the University of Cambridge, the University of Warwick and the Estonian University of Life Sciences. The report explores perceptions of local communities regarding the social impacts of Matsalu National Park as well as their views about the management of the National Park. Furthermore, as the questionnaire was distributed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the questionnaire also explored how COVID-19 restrictions imposed during the pandemic impacted people who live inside or near the Matsalu National Park.
Nikoleta Jones, James McGinlay, Angela Jones, Chrisovaladis Malesios, Jens Holtvoeth, Panayiotis G. Dimitrakopoulos, Vassilis Gkoumas
During the first wave of the COVID pandemic, management authorities of numerous Protected Areas (PAs) had to discourage visitors from accessing them in order to reduce the virus transmission rate and protect local communities. This resulted in social-ecological impacts and added another layer of complexity to managing PAs. This paper presents the results of a survey in Snowdonia National Park capturing the views of over local residents on the impacts of COVID restrictions and possible scenarios and tools for managing tourist numbers. Lower visitor numbers were seen in a broadly positive way by a significant number of respondents while benefit sharing issues from tourism also emerged. Most preferred options to manage overcrowding were restricting access to certain paths, the development of mobile applications to alert people to over-crowding and reporting irresponsible behavior. Our findings are useful for PA managers and local communities currently developing post-COVID recovery strategies.
National Park of East Macedonia and Thrace, Greece: Exploring local perceptions of the National Park and its social impacts
Vassilis Gkoumas, James McGinlay, Andreas Kontoleon, Nikoleta Jones
Language: English, Greek
Protected areas, such as National Parks, are an essential policy instrument for the protection of biodiversity and for the mitigation of climate change. However, the designation of protected areas often introduces changes to the local economy and communities by restricting certain sectors and activities, while promoting others. It is necessary to study the social impacts of protected areas in order to increase their effectiveness and public acceptability.
This report presents the first results of research on the social impacts of protected areas on local communities that the FIDELIO team conducted in the National Park of East MacedoniaThrace (NPEMT) in Winter 2020/21. The report will analyse in parallel quantitative data collected through 281 valid questionnaires of local residents and qualitative data from 22 semistructured interviews with key stakeholders of the NPEMT.
Report in Greek
James McGinlay, Vassilis Gkoumas, Jens Holtvoeth, Ruymán Federico Armas Fuertes, Elena Bazhenova, Alessandro Benzoni, Kerstin Botsch, Carmen Cabrera Martel, Cati Carrillo Sánchez, Isabel Cervera, Guillermo Chaminade, Juliana Doerstel, Concepción J. Fagundo García, Angela Jones, Michael Lammertz, Kaja Lotman, Majda Odar, Teresa Pastor, Carol Ritchie, Stefano Santi, Mojca Smolej, Francisco Soriano Rico, Holly Waterman, Tomasz Zwijacz-Kozica, Andreas Kontoleon, Panayiotis G. Dimitrakopoulos, Nikoleta Jones
The COVID-19 pandemic led to many European countries imposing lockdown measures and limiting people’s movement during spring 2020. During the summer 2020, these strict lockdown measures were gradually lifted while in autumn 2020, local restrictions started to be re-introduced as a second wave emerged. After initial restrictions on visitors accessing many Nature Protected Areas (PAs) in Europe, management authorities have had to introduce measures so that all users can safely visit these protected landscapes. In this paper, we examine the challenges that emerged due to COVID-19 for PAs and their deeper causes. By considering the impact on and response of 14 popular European National and Nature Parks, we propose tentative longer-term solutions going beyond the current short-term measures that have been implemented. The most important challenges identified in our study were overcrowding, a new profile of visitors, problematic behavior, and conflicts between different user groups. A number of new measures have been introduced to tackle these challenges including information campaigns, traffic management, and establishing one-way systems on trail paths. However, measures to safeguard public health are often in conflict with other PA management measures aiming to minimize disturbance of wildlife and ecosystems. We highlight three areas in which management of PAs can learn from the experience of this pandemic: managing visitor numbers in order to avoid overcrowding through careful spatial planning, introducing educational campaigns, particularly targeting a new profile of visitors, and promoting sustainable tourism models, which do not rely on large visitor numbers.