Your E-mail
Remember me
 Forgotten password
SCALETOOL IntroductionDriversBiodiversityPolicies and managementConnectivity and protected areas
SCALES and governance Green Infrastructure Site selections Management of network of protected areas Biodiversity monitoring and EU policy Ecological Fiscal Transfers Links to key nature conservation policy instruments

Management of network of protected areas - innovative solutions and scales sensitive instruments

Linking regional management, local implementation and European-wide evaluation requires a careful consideration of various scales as well as economic, political, cultural and historical contexts. Innovative solutions in management are inevitable, their development and local and regional implementations should be encouraged and guided at the European and national levels of governance.
Key policies: EU Biodiversity Strategy, Birds and Habitats Directives, national biodiversity and nature conservation strategies

Summary of the problem

Although management of protected areas (PAs) is, most commonly, realized regionally and locally it is expected to improve the state of biodiversity at national and European levels. Therefore linking regional management, local implementation and European-wide evaluation, requires a careful consideration of various scales and interactions between them (Henle, 2010). As functioning of PAs stays often in conflict with current socio-economic development, their management needs to be considered in economic, political, cultural and historical contexts as well as in relation to competition and cooperation with other sectors. PAs management also becomes more compound, as new tasks such as systematic monitoring, effective science-policy interface and scientific knowledge incorporation should be undertaken. Newly established institutional settings are often required and integration of various instruments (e.g., financial instruments, coexistence of traditional and innovative conservation ideas) is inevitable, yet not often practiced (Paloniemi et al., 2012).

Institutional and societal challenges of protected areas management

Innovative governance modes and policy solutions in PAs have been recently developed and are being currently practiced in European countries. However, institutional and societal challenges need to be responded to to ensure that the governance innovations fit ecological needs as well as socio-economic, cultural and historical contexts. Neither environmental governance nor management of PAs exists in a "policy vacuum", so they incorporate a selection of policy instruments (not only those targeted specifically to the PAs management) and consequently create opportunity for potentially innovative ideas. In the case of societal challenges, we consider the fact that increased establishment and management of new PAs, such as Natura 2000 sites, cover a variety of land categories with different ownership status, types of land use and levels of human activity. Management should therefore respect land use issues and ecosystem services while assuring participation in decision-making (e.g. in developing management strategies or planning conservation measures), and just and fair distribution of costs and benefits of conservation (such as distribution of direct and indirect costs, access to nature, opportunity costs, etc.). Institutional challenge in this case considers thinking outside a box of traditional, top-down management approaches to govern PAs. Conservation measures need not only to incorporate rules and restrictions but also emerging cooperative actions at local level. Effective management should subsequently address biodiversity conservation issues inside and outside strictly designated Pas; the latter is highly interrelated with societal challenges.


  • Localized innovations are needed for promoting a process towards sustainability

    Economic activities in Natura 2000 site, Poland. Photo by Joanna Cent

    Innovations are not end but a mean to promote sustainability. Although they do not give a promise of immediate improvements, they should, in particular in the EU context, be designed and implemented using a complex socially and environmentally meaningful mode providing in the end a basis for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth targeted in the EU 2020 Strategy. Hence the innovative character of described solutions in the PAs management within case study countries is influenced by and in turn influencing both social and environmental contexts with far from simple or self-evident consequences. The nature of current innovations is undoubtedly controversial as they are aiming to respond to scale challenges while, in many cases, producing new ones.

  • Seriously taken public participation should be organized

    Natura 2000 consultation program in Malopolska, Poland. Photo by: Regional Directorate of Environmental Protection in Kraków.

    Innovations towards enhancing public dialogue and promoting new participatory and fair arrangements in environmental governance and PAs management should be encouraged. For example, organizing open meetings supporting cross-level and cross- sectoral cooperation between stakeholders and authorities working at local and regional levels should be fostered. Making it obligatory when developing management plans for N2000 sites might be desirable to assure sufficient scope (in terms of both areas and invited participants) and allocation of resources as well as to enable social learning. Good experiences from such efforts have been received from Poland.
  • New institutional arrangements needed for governing PAs management should be supported

    Participatory event in Poland. Photo by: Katarzyna Nieszporek

    The establishment of official institutions consisting of a variety of actors from different governance levels with the responsibility for PAs management could be beneficial for dealing with scale challenges. However, as the example of management agencies from Greece has showed, such governance arrangements should be based on clearly defined goals towards promoting social-ecological resilience, be supported from the state with funding and qualified staff and be carefully designed in order to ensure the equal involvement of all relevant stakeholders and especially of local community groups.

  • Innovation needs guidance

    Stakeholders communication, Pyhä-Häkki national park, Finland. Photo by Markus Sirkka

    There is a need for guided innovation policy that should focus on both developing new institutional arrangements and overcoming implementation deficits. Exchange of good practices at EU and international levels as well as technical support and more funding opportunities (such as LIFE+, which additionally strengthens the role of non-state actors conducting worthy conservation projects) would be important steps towards this direction. Specific guidance, policy formulation, and monitoring should however be located at national, regional, and local levels in order to reflect on social and environmental needs as well as scale challenges. Participatory processes initiated in Poland used a rather traditional and well-known scheme of engaging local actors, resulting in considerable changes for management practice in the local environments. Sustaining the achievements require stable funding and managers able to maintain long-term cooperation with stakeholders.

Applications: experiences from Greece, Poland and UK

A detailed description of the following case countries is provided below (please click on the link)

Greek case study: challenging power asymmetries in innovative governance arrangements

Polish case study: first steps in systematic use of public participation programs

UK case study: tradition in participation and conservation on private land


Apostolopoulou, E. and Pantis J. D. 2010. Development plans versus conservation: Explanation of emergent conflicts and state political handling. Environment and Planning A 42:982-1000.

Apostolopoulou, E., E. Drakou, F. Santoro, and J. D. Pantis. 2012. Investigating the barriers to adopting a human-in-nature-view in Greek biodiversity conservation. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, DOI:10.1080/13504509.2012.707991

Bell S., Marzano M., Cent J., Kobierska H., Podjed D., Vandzinskaite D., Reinert H., Armaitiene A., Grodzinska-Jurczak M., Mursic R. 2008. What counts? Volunteers and their organizations in the recording and monitoring of biodiversity. Biodiversity and Conservation 17(14): 3443-3454.

Cent J., Grodzińska-Jurczak M., Pietrzyk-Kaszyńska A. 2013. Emerging multilevel environmental governance–a case of public participation in Poland. Journal for Nature Conservation. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jnc.2013.09.005.

Grodzińska-Jurczak M. and Cent J. 2011. Expansion of Nature Conservation Areas: Problems with Natura 2000 Implementation in Poland? Environmental Management 47, 11-27.

Grodzińska-Jurczak M., Strzelecka M., Kamal S., Gutowska J. 2012. Effectiveness of Nature Conservation – a case of Natura 2000 sites in Poland. W: Protected Area Management. Red. Barbara Sladonja. InTech, Rijeka, 183-202, ISBN 980-953-307-448-6.

Grodzińska-Jurczak M, Pietrzyk-Kaszyńska A, Cent J, Scott AV, Apostolopoulou E, Paloniemi R (2014) Governance of network of protected areas: Innovative solutions and instruments. In: Henle K, Potts SG, Kunin WE, Matsinos YG, Similä J, Pantis JD, Grobelnik V, Penev L, Settele J (Eds) Scaling in Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation. Pensoft Publishers, Sofia, 119-123.

Henle K., Kunin W., Schweiger O., Schmeller D., Grobelnik V., Matsinos Y., Pantis J., Penev L., Potts S., Ring J., Similä Y., Tzanopoulos J., van den Hove S., Baguette M., Clober J., Excoffier L., Grodzinska-Jurczak M., Lengyel Sz., Marty P., Moilanen A., Porcher E., Steinicke H., Storch D., Steffan-Dewenter I., Sykes M.T., Zobel M., Settele J. 2010. Securing the Conservation of biodiversity across Administrative Levels and spatial, temporal, and Ecological Scales – research needs and approaches of the SCALES Project. GAIA – Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society 19/3: 187-193.

Paloniemi R., Apostolopoulou E., Primmer E., Grodzinska-Jurczak M., Henle K., Ring I., Kettunen M., Tzanopoulos J., Potts. S., van der Hove S., Marty P., McConville A., Similä J. 2012. Biodiversity conservation across scales: lessons from a science-policy dialogue. Nature Conservation 2, 7-19.

Copyright and disclaimer: SCALES and SCALETOOL

CONDITIONS OF USE: We explicitly encourage the use of SCALETOOL. SCALETOOL is freely available for non-commercial use provided you acknowledge SCALES as source. For more extensive access to databases (e.g. for statistical analyses or if you want to contribute data), tools, or background material, please contact the SCALES coordinator (send us email).


© 2010 - 2021 SCALES. All rights reserved.