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Social Capital and Impact Assessment Tool for Protected Areas (SOCIAT)

A tool for the in-depth understanding of social impacts of nature Protected Areas

SOCIAT is a tailored questionnaire that measures:

  • Social outcomes of a Protected Area for local communities
  • The sociodemographic profile of the local community including place attachment, socio-environmental values and demographics
  • Attitudes towards the governance system and levels of pro-environmental behaviour

Data collected via SOCIAT can assist in:

  • Promoting the equal distribution of social impacts of protected areas
  • Building trusted relationships with local communities
  • Increasing engagement and empower local communities
  • Incorporating local values in decision-making


The benefits of using SOCIAT

The SOCIAT tool helps conservation practitioners and scientists to plan actions that will assist in increasing the level of public support for protected areas in the context of a post 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and the new Green Deal.

Protected areas can be a significant source of tensions between local communities, visitors and conservationists because their governance frameworks often impose restrictions on those who use these areas, limiting or at least regulating activities within their boundaries. Rather than shortfalls in funding, the failure to have the support of all categories of stakeholder is a key reason why some European PAs have been unsuccessful and have a low level of public support. SOCIAT helps to address this challenge.


Applications of SOCIAT

Black Forest National Park

Black Forest National Park is one of the most popular nature parks in Europe. 500 people from the local communities participated in the SOCIAT assessment revealing their attitudes and perceptions about the park.

Eifel National Park

The Eifel National Park was founded as the first (and to date only) National Park in North Rhine-Westphalia. 330 people from local communities participated in the assessment expressing their views on a number of issues including the distribution of social impacts between stakeholders.

Matsalu National Park

Matsalu National Park in Estonia is one of the most important wetlands in Europe. SOCIAT was distributed in Spring 2021 capturing the views of 100 people living in the area regarding the contributions of the parks in their daily lives.


SOCIAT in European Protected Areas

We are working with park authorities in 19 protected areas in Europe

The SOCIAT tool has been developed as a result of the FIDELIO: Forecasting Social Impacts of Biodiversity Conservation Policies in Europe research project. This is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The tool and associate guidelines have been further developed thanks to funding from the University of Warwick's Policy Support Fund.