The Eifel National Park is one of 16 designated National Parks in Germany. It was established in 2004 on predominantly publicly owned land, including 33 km2 of former military training grounds. Postcards were sent to all households in 12 villages inside or near the Eifel National Park inviting them to participate in the SOCIAT survey. In total 333 responses were received, yielding a 5% return.
Attitudes towards the national park
Respondents were asked if their perception of the Eifel National Park has changed since the park was established.
- 34.5% stated that they had a more positive perception
- 46.5% stated that their perception has remained the same
- 11.4% reported that their perception is more negative.
The survey included a hypothetical question on how they would vote if they were to decide on the continuance of the Eifel National Park.
- 82.9% stated that they would vote for the continuance of the National Park
- 2.7% stated they would vote against it
This can allow National Park authorities to identify which communities have the lowest acceptance to understand the reasons and create targeted campaigns to increase support levels.
Respondents were asked if they are personally affected by the National Park.
- 55.9% claim that the park influences how they spend their spare time
- 9.3% state it affects them professionally, for exampls as hosts of holiday homes
- 28.5% report they do not see an impact on their personal lives
Respondents were also asked if they believed benefits to be equally distributed between locals and visitors
- 55.9% agreed that benefits were equally distributed
- 29.7% believed that benefits were mainly enjoyed by visitors
Perceived social impacts are significantly correlated with the level of public support for the National Park. It is clear that people who identify more benefits from the existence of the National Park, such as increased income and improved quality of life, tend to be more in favour of the park.
Trust in Public Institutions
Respondents were asked how much they trust a number of institutions involved directly or indirectly in the management of the National Park, including the National Park authority, local council, state government and the federal government. The highest level of trust was expressed for the Eifel National Park Authority. The state government and the federal government were not trusted as much by respondents.
Those who stated that they would vote in favour of the existence of the Eifel National Park in a hypothetical vote, tend to trust management institutions more compared to those who stated that they would be against the continuation of the existence of the National Park
- 73% of respondents believed that ‘most people’ or ‘everyone’ follow the rules and regulations for the protection of biodiversity in the National Park
- 20.3% considered that only some people follow the rules
- 91.2% of participants reported that they follow the smoking and open fires ban
- 87.6% follow a ban to forage mushrooms, berries or flowers
- Only 58.4% reported that they keep to designated paths most of the time
Respondents were asked how reasonable they considered the national park regulations
- 60% of participants considered no excessive noise and no smoking/open flames as ‘very reasonable’
- Less than 50% reported ‘very reasonable’ to no foraging, collecting wood and veering off paths