Acceptance of the Stelvio National Park
- Project duration: September 2019 - December 2021
- Project status: Ongoing
- Funding: Public institutions (Other projects /Project)
Unlike the extended national parks in the USA, there are hardly any unused areas of considerable size in central Europe. Consequently, it is inevitable to harmonize the aims of conservation with the interests of the local population. As shown by different experiences, a sustainable development within protected areas can only be guaranteed if it is supported by the local population and not only forced by law. For an effective management of protected areas in inhabited and cultivated regions it is thus unavoidable to know which factors the acceptance of the protected area depends on, where obvious conflicts of use do occur, and which instruments are available for politics and administration in order to increase the acceptance. The Stelvio National Park belongs to one of four historical National Parks of Italy and was pushed through in 1935 without any consultation of the population and partly against strong objections. Consequently, several problems arose and clear conflicts came up between nature conservation and human impacts. Cultural and linguistic differences incremented the disagreement additionally. Since the foundation of the National Park Consortium at the beginning of the 1990ies, several changes have taken place. In 2001, Eurac led a project with the aim to analyze the acceptance of the park by the local population and by the tourists. 1100 residents were surveyed (personal face to face interviews within the entire National Park. The results showed that a survey of the population can contribute considerably to a better distribution of the priorities within the tasks of the National Park Authority. As in November 2007 the implementation for a zoning of the Stelvio Nationa Park was completed and in 2015 the whole competences and responsabilities have been delegated from national level to the local authorities, it is now time to investigate how far these changes have influenced the attitude of the local population towards the park and to get an overview of the current situation. To this end the present project aims to repeat the same representative survey, in order to compare its results with those from almost 20 years ago.
Dealing with the topic of acceptance of nature conservation measures, in general, is not a new approach. From its beginning, nature conservation endeavors to gain the willingness of the population to accept and support the aims and tasks of nature conservation. This is particularly true for European conservation areas, as extensive zones without human impact can hardly be found anymore. Often there is a discrepancy between the high regard for nature conservation on the one hand and the strong objection against its aims as soon as concrete measures are to be realized on the other. Acceptance of nature conservation may mean that nature conservation occupies an appropriate place in the social system of values, even by following the involved legal rules and norms. Acceptance, however, may also mean that a conservation area is seen as useful and advantageous. For the acceptance of a conservation area it is of fundamental importance to know the attitude of the residents and to involve the population in conservation actions.
The Stelvio National Park belongs together with the National Parks Gran Paradiso, Abruzzo and Circeo to the four historical National Parks of Italy, all of which have been founded during the first part of the 20th century. The Stelvio National Park, in particular, has been pushed through in the year 1935 without any consultation of the population and partly against strong objections.
The park area borders on the Swiss National Park, the Nature Park Adamello-Brenta, and the Regional Park Adamello and is thus of great strategic importance regarding its location in the centre of the Alps. The Stelvio National Park area extends over two autonomous provinces (Bolzano and Trentino) and one region (Lombardy). Linguistic, cultural, demographic, economic as well as landscape-ecological differences have always impeded the cooperation between the three sections of the Park. Moreover, long-lasting conflicts between the central government in Rome and the relevant provincial/regional authorities have even hindered the development of the National Park. Since 1995, the three sections of the Park have been managed for twenty years by a unified consortium, a unique form of administration of conservation areas in Italy.
The Park extends over 24 municipalities, four of which are completely within the National Park boundary. As a result, settlements (villages, hamlets, farms), agricultural areas (partly intensive crops), industrial estates, ski-lifts, mines and hydro-electric power stations have led to a considerable landscape change within the National Park since its foundation.
In 2001 Eurac led a project with the aim to analyze the acceptance of the park by the local population and by tourists. The aim of this study was to investigate the attitude of the local population against “their” Stelvio National Park by means of a representative survey. Although protected areas had been established in inhabited territories, there was still very limited understanding of how local people perceive protected areas and their participation in protected-area management. It was fundamental to understand the different perceptions of the park to work out possible forms of participation, which should contribute to manage the existing conflicts. Thus, the first step was to focus on the long-term conflicts, to elaborate hypotheses and - built up on this – work out a questionnaire. The questionnaire comprised the following topics: Attitude to nature, effects of the National Park on various groups of people and forms of land-use, relevance of and satisfaction with the National Park authorities, potential of conflicts, miscellaneous information of the questioned person (personal activities, demographic information ...). These topics have been dealt with in 32 groups of questions. 1,100 residents were surveyed (personal, face-to-face interviews) within the entire National Park.
As in November 2007 the implementation for a zoning of the Stelvio National Park was completed and in 2015 the whole competences and responsibilities have been delegated from national level to the local authorities, it is time to investigate how far these changes have influenced the attitude of the local population. The present project aims at repeating the same representative survey, in order to compare its results with those from almost 20 years ago.
The following hypotheses are tested:
(1) Acceptance depends on local populations’ attitude towards nature
(2) Acceptance depends on the work of the National Park Administration
(3) Acceptance increased during the last 20 years
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