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Management toolkit

This online portal provides support for individuals and organisations involved in managing protected areas. It offers solutions to issues that impact the protection and management of protected areas by providing links to additional information and to examples of best practice. The information on this portal is intended to complement existing guidance on management planning for protected areas, including that provided by Eurosite.

Although a management plan is a considered to be an essential tool for managing a protected area, not all areas have one. The fitness check of the Birds and Habitats Directives indicated that roughly 50% of the sites designated as Natura 2000 site possess one. Reasons for the lack of up-to-date management plans might stem from the fact that managers are struggling with a suite of issues including; a) how to work with stakeholders and how to reconcile the interests of different stakeholders, b) how to set clear objectives for habitats and species, c) forecasting the impact of climate change and climate change adaptation, d) how to use scientific knowledge in decision making on management interventions e) how to assess the ecosystem services provided by protected areas and how to turn the delivery of these services into financial benefits and f) how to translate the objectives imposed by the Habitats and Birds Directives.

Why a management plan?

Management plans are an essential tool for protected area managers for a variety of reasons. It will give information about the requirements for protecting the key biodiversity of the site, about the sharing of responsibilities, the allocation of available funds and on how to monitor the impact of the management activities. The management plan should also be accountable and transparent about the allocation of funds and about the priorities if there is insufficient funding to do everything outlined in the plan, monitoring should be incorporated to evaluate whether the management has achieved its goal to protect the biodiversity of the site. Furthermore, several key issues ask for management planning such as visitor management, which has become an increasingly important aspect of a management plan. Since free access to protected areas has increased, this has resulted in increased pressure from recreational activities in the form of hiking, (mountain) biking, mountaineering, horse riding, skiing and ice skating, all of which can surpass the carrying capacity, thereby potentially contributing to the loss of biodiversity. Last but not least, the management planning process is an important tool for identifying and developing proposals for attracting extra funding for investments in restoration or for mitigating environmental stress.

Management planning guidance

There are quite a number of guidance documents providing information about the content of a management plan and about how to elaborate on such a plan, including one published by Eurosite. Eurosite, in communication with DG Environment of the European Commission, therefore decided to produce a toolkit where managers of protected areas can find easily accessible information about how the issues they encounter in management planning for natural sites can be addressed. As can be noticed when going through the toolkit, some issues haven not been covered yet, but we aim to fill these gaps in due time.

This toolkit provides information without being prescriptive; anyone working on natural site management has the option to select certain information offered through this portal. The four main sections in the portal provide information about the main components of a management plan, the key issues that protected area managers encounter, monitoring and links to existing guidance documents and tools.

It is Eurosite’s intention to update the toolkit with new information regularly. At the same time, Eurosite invites those who have information that is useful to include in the toolbox or who would like to contribute otherwise, to contact the Eurosite Secretariat. In this way we hope to keep the toolkit up to date.


This toolkit was developed by the Eurosite Management Planning Expert Group consisting of the following members:

Eurosite Management Planning Expert Group members


Name Role in WG Affiliation Country Topics
Henk Zingstra Chair Netherlands Project cycle; EU Policy impacts; Climate change impacts; Existing guidance; Principles of adaptive management; stakeholder involvement
Ben Le Bas Member Natural England UK Evaluation & plan review
Clive Hurford Member UK Conservation priority; Conservation strategy; Site unitisation; Developing condition indicators; Minimising observer variation; Monitoring Conservation management; Evaluation, data storage and feedback
Bernie Fleming Member Fleming Ecology UK
Jan Veenstra Member Volunteer at Staatsbosbeheer Netherlands Ecosystem services
Lisa Ernoul Member Tour du Valat France Hunting, Stakeholders & users, Introduction of management guidance, Ecosystem approach, Open Standards, Ramsar Wetland management planning
Kristian van Oene Member Natuurmonumenten Netherlands
Brady Mattsson Member University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Austria Hunting


In making the toolkit EMPEG was supported by the Eurosite Secretariat, specifically Kristijan Čivić and Hannah Löwenhardt contributed greatly to making the toolkit work.

Eurosite’s mission is to create a Europe where nature is cared for, protected, restored and valued by all. To achieve this, Eurosite provides practitioners with opportunities to network and exchange experience on practical nature management.

Other contributions

Crop Wild Relatives: Joanna Brehm

Nature-Based Solutions: Eurosite’s Economics and Ecosystem Services working group (EES), Kristijan Čivić