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Open AccessArticle

Evaluation of the Operational Environment Factors of Nature Conservation Policy Implementation: Cases of Selected EU and Non-EU Countries

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Department of Forestry and Renewable Forest Resources, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
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Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria, Research Centre for Forestry and Wood (CREA), 38123 Trento, Italy
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Department of Forest Inventory and Management, Faculty of Forestry, University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
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Department of Forest Economics and Management, Technical University in Zvolen, Faculty of Forestry, 96001 Zvolen, Slovakia
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Department of spatial planning, GIS and Forest Policy, Institute of Forestry, 11030 Belgrade, Serbia
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Faculty of Forestry, University of Sarajevo, 71000 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Department of Management and Alternative Tourism, Faculty of business management, University of Forestry-Sofia, 1756 Sofia, Bulgaria
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Institute of Forestry of Montenegro, 81000 Podgorica, Montenegro
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Department of Forest Management, Faculty of Forestry, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, 1000 Skopje, North Macedonia
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Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Water and Investments Directorate, Cohesion Policy Division, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2019, 10(12), 1099; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10121099
Received: 14 October 2019 / Revised: 26 November 2019 / Accepted: 27 November 2019 / Published: 2 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
The complex policy decision-making situation around nature conservation requires examination of the operational environment. This study develops and tests a three-phase analytical framework for the evaluation of operational environment factors influencing nature conservation policy implementation. The four important operational environment factors (legal, policy, economic, and social) have been identified, to build up a framework. The framework was tested in selected countries and includes experts’ opinions. Experts (n = 44) from five EU countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Slovakia, and Slovenia) and four non-EU countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia) defined and evaluated the factors and sub-factors that affect the operational environment related to nature conservation policy implementation. The results show policy changes arising from the new governance requirements introduced by changed political regime and Europeanization are key driving factors for changes in the nature conservation operational environment. For nature conservation, these wide-reaching changes have led to new political and legal frameworks, new institutional set-ups and multilevel governance frameworks, new establishment of protected areas and Natura 2000 network, and the re-allocation of financial resources and inclusion of non-state actors in policy decision-making. However, there are also some challenges and unsolved problems that need further attention from policy decision-makers and institutions, especially related to the institutional gap, sustainable financing of nature conservation, transposition of the EU Directives into legal systems, designation of sites or improving their implementation, implementation of innovative funding schemes, and a transparent participatory process. This analytical framework can be applied to various problems related to any environmental issues or other policy implementation or management, and other sectors where public decision-making is combined with stakeholders’ engagement.
Keywords: biodiversity conservation; nature conservation policy; operational environment; legal; policy; economic and social factors; evaluation framework; protected areas; Natura 2000 network biodiversity conservation; nature conservation policy; operational environment; legal; policy; economic and social factors; evaluation framework; protected areas; Natura 2000 network
MDPI and ACS Style

Pezdevšek Malovrh, Š.; Paletto, A.; Posavec, S.; Dobšinská, Z.; Đorđević, I.; Marić, B.; Avdibegović, M.; Kitchoukov, E.; Stijović, A.; Trajkov, P.; Laktić, T. Evaluation of the Operational Environment Factors of Nature Conservation Policy Implementation: Cases of Selected EU and Non-EU Countries. Forests 2019, 10, 1099.

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