Protected Areas & Sustainable Regional Development

In the alpine bow meanwhile some 23% of the surface are protected. The picture shows the Allgäuer Natural Park (Source: CIPRA)

Protected Areas: Biological Diversity as an Investment

Protected areas are often perceived as benefiting only nature and biodiversity. Their effects on regional development are frequently neglected. The Cipra "Future in the Alps" Project thus focused on researching the relationship between protected areas, biodiversity and regional development and came to the conclusion that protected areas actually can contribute, given good management, both to regional value-added and the preservation of biodiversity.

Adapted from JUNGMEIER et al. (2006) & CIPRA (2007)

compiled by Katharina Conradin, seecon international gmbh

Referring to the definition by the Convention on Biological Diversity a protected area is "a geographically defined area which is designated or regulated and managed to achieve specific conservation objectives." The protection of areas and sites is one of the most important instruments of modern, anticipatory strategies in nature conservation and long-term strategic planning. Therefore, an enormous increase in the number and acreage as well as in the number of site categories has been registered. The number of protected areas in Europe [...] doubled between 1970 (2060) and 1990 (4400).

The Integration of three dimensions of sustainability in managing protected areas (Source: JUNGMEIER et al. 2006)
The development of the coherent protected area system NATURA 2000 also indicates a rapidly increasing network of sites, meanwhile covering approximately 436’887 km2 in Europe (JUNGMEIER et al. 2006). In the Alpine bow meanwhile some 23% of the surface are protected. MOSE (2006) states that protected areas are socially constructed "landscapes of hope." As society is changing permanently also the concepts of protected areas have evolved. Sociologists have detected a large change in paradigms, bringing protected areas from the "static-preservation approach" to a "dynamic-innovation approach" (WEIXLBAUMER 1998). These new approaches are characterised by: Nature conservation as a general concept of spatial and integrated rural development instead of separating nature conservation and economic development
  • Protection of spaces and processes instead of mainly species and habitats
  • Steering the areas by management instead of non-management
  • Protected areas nowadays have to fulfil a multitude of functions
Planning a protected area has become one of the most extensive planning processes in any modern society. In this process, all three dimensions of sustainability play an important role:
  • Ecological dimension (natural heritage, ecosystems, land use regulations, spatial conflicts, spatial development policies, disaster prevention, etc.)
  • Socio-cultural dimension (acceptance, involvement, participation, traditions etc.)
  • Economic dimension (regional value added, marketing and branding, sponsoring, subsidy systems, etc.)
Further Readings & Links

JUNGMEIER et al. (2006)
This CIPRA Future in the Alps-Report gives answers to the following questions: Can large protected areas be instruments of sustainable development and at the same time suitable instruments for protecting natural diversity?

CIPRA Info 82 (2007)
Can large protected areas be instruments of sustainable development and at the same time suitable instruments for protecting natural diversity? This article summarises the answers from the "Future in the Alps" report.

"Future in the Alps Workshop"
Workshop on protected areas: Naturpark Allgäu/Tannheimertal - a chance for the whole region (in German).

BROOKS et al. (2004)
This article provides an overview of the goal that 10% of every biome should be protected, and whether this goal has been reached so far.

Confusing Variety of Categories of Protected Areas

There is a wide variety of categories of protected areas. Some primarily serve regional development and the quality of life of the local people (Source: Nationalpark Nockberge)
At first sight, there is a confusing variety of categories (see of protected areas (national parks, nature protection areas, landscape protection areas, natural parks, regional parks, Biosphere Reserves, areas subject to landscape protection orders, etc.). Moreover the definitions vary from one Alpine country to another. Some protected areas primarily serve regional development purposes and the maintenance of the quality of life for the local inhabitants and neighbouring communities, while others are aimed exclusively at the preservation of biodiversity. CIPRA sees these protected areas as a pillar for sustainable regional development but has also raised its voice against fraudulent labelling in this context and is calling for a serious approach to the development of protected areas with quality criteria to be made binding for all categories and in all the countries of the Alps.
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