Home » Management toolkit » Key issues

Key issues

The Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitats Directives revealed that around 50% of the areas designated as a Natura 2000 site lack a management plan. To identify what managers of protected areas are struggling with when elaborating management plans a questionnaire was sent out to the Eurosite network. The responses revealed that managers are struggling to a) reconcile the interests of different stakeholders, b) reconcile conflicts between stakeholder groups themselves and c) reconcile conflicts between stakeholders and the management of the protected area. This illustrates the growing interest of the public and their wish to be informed and involved in the management of protected areas. Of particular importance is the cooperation with the landowners to ensure that management of their properties does not conflict with the management objectives of the protected area. A question related to this is how to compensate landowners for the loss of income when they are willing to adjust their management. Managers are asking for examples of management plans and good practice from other protected areas to build upon in their planning process. Managers of protected areas are also concerned about the lack of scientifically-based knowledge of ecological processes (e.g. the interactions between air quality, water, soil, species and habitats) and, as a result, the lack of knowledge-based decisions on management. This counts in particular for the impact of climate change and how to adapt to these impacts. Other issues that were mentioned are related to balancing the increased pressure of visitors with the protection of biodiversity, how to evaluate the ecosystems services of protected areas and how to integrate the requirements of the Birds and Habitats Directives and other relevant (EU) policies in site management. Monitoring is another important topic especially in view of the required flexibility of management and the possibility to adjust management to new insights and changing environmental conditions. Managers also stress the need for designing SMART objectives. Last but not least financing the planned management interventions is an important issue.