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Evaluating Protected Areas Management Effectiveness

The EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 identifies three major targets where Protected Areas are central: the need to protect 30% of EU sea and land surface (with new Protected Areas designations, completing the Natura 2000 network and valuing existing national/regional designations), the need to strictly protect 10% of the EU land and sea, and the need to improve management effectiveness in all Protected Areas.

The EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 commits to effectively manage all protected areas, defining clear conservation objectives and measures, and monitoring them appropriately by 2030 (EC, 2020). The European Environmental Agency  (EEA, Oct 2020)  concludes in its reporting on management effectiveness of EU's Natura 2000 network that management effectiveness standards are insufficiently known and understood among practitioners. The Global Database on Protected Area Management Effectiveness (GD-PAME) reports that only 7.6 % of the recorded protected areas in the EU have been assessed.

PAME goes beyond the traditional evaluation of management plans that is common practices amongst conservation organisations.  Management effectiveness evaluation (PAME) is defined as “the assessment of how well the protected area is being managed – primarily the extent to which it is protecting values and achieving goals and objectives. The term management effectiveness reflects three main themes:

  • design issues relating to both individual sites and protected area systems;
  • adequacy and appropriateness of management systems and processes; and
  • delivery of protected area objectives including conservation of values.”
    (Hockings et al. 2006)

Four major purposes drive evaluation of management effectiveness . (Hockings et al. 2006). It can: a) lead to better management in a changing environment; b) assist in effective resource allocation; c) promote accountability and transparency; d) and help involve the community, build constituency and promote protected area values.

Key to the success of evaluating management effectiveness is to integrate monitoring and evaluation into day to day management. Hence the fourth level of assessment consists of detailed monitoring and reporting on the condition and trend of specific protected area values such as animal populations, forest condition, cultural values and socioeconomic impacts.

Evaluating Management Effectiveness has a clear link with the principles of Adaptive Management and with the use of the Management Project Cycle. Assessments can evaluate each stage of the management cycle, focusing on different questions and information. The outcomes of the evaluation on management effectiveness are supposed to feed back into an updated management planning and eventually in elaborating a new management plan.

According to Eurosite’s Management Planning Expert Group management plans should be adaptive, especially in view of the impacts of climate change. Conservation goals should therefore be flexible and able to be adjusted to changing circumstances. This also implies that we do not propose that a plan should have its content fixed. Preparing protected areas for change has become critical. Read more.

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