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The Impact of COVID-19 on the Management of European Protected Areas and Policy Implications

Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute & Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3QZ, UK
Grupo Tragsa, Avenida Quinto Centenario, Edifico San José, Local 4, 38800 San Sebastián de La Gomera, La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain
Kullaberg Nature Reserve, County Administrative Board of Skåne, Italienska vägen 323, 26377 Mölle, Sweden
Prealpi Giulie Nature Park, Resia, Piazza del Tiglio 3, 33010 Resia, Italy
Department of National Park Planning, Regional Development and Tourism, National Park Black Forest, Schwarzwaldhochstraße 2, 77889 Seebach, Germany
Centro Administrativo del Parque Nacional y Parque Natural de Sierra Nevada, Carretera Antigua de Sierra Nevada km 7, 18191 Pinos Genil, Granada, Spain
Subdirección General de Patrimonio Natural y Cambio Climático, Dirección General del Medio Natural, Consejería de Agua, Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Medio Ambiente, Región de Murcia, Plaza Juan XXIII, s/n. Desp. C1.10, 30008 Murcia, Spain
Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park, Casa del Parque Natural Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia, Ctra/Las Batuecas, n° 22, 37624 La Alberca, Salamanca, Spain
Söderåsen National Park, County Administrative Board of Skåne, Skäralid 747, 26453 Ljungbyhed, Sweden
Wald und Holz NRW, Nationalparkforstamt Eifel, Fachgebiet Kommunikation und Naturerleben, Urftseestraße 34, 53937 Schleiden-Gemünd, Germany
Garajonay National Park, Centro de Visitantes Juego de Bolas, La Palmita C.P., 38330 Agulo, La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain
Snowdonia National Park Authority, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd LL48 6LF, UK
Environmental Board of Estonia, 15172 Tallinn, Estonia
Triglav National Park, Ljubljanska cesta 27, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
EUROPARC Federation, Waffnergasse 6, 93047 Regensburg, Germany
Peak District National Park Authority, Aldern House, Bakewell DE45 1AE, UK
Tatra National Par, Kuźnice 1, 34-500 Zakopane, Poland
Department of Environment, University of the Aegean, 81100 Mytilene, Greece
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(11), 1214;
Received: 29 September 2020 / Revised: 8 November 2020 / Accepted: 13 November 2020 / Published: 18 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
The COVID-19 pandemic led to many European countries imposing lockdown measures and limiting people’s movement during spring 2020. During the summer 2020, these strict lockdown measures were gradually lifted while in autumn 2020, local restrictions started to be re-introduced as a second wave emerged. After initial restrictions on visitors accessing many Nature Protected Areas (PAs) in Europe, management authorities have had to introduce measures so that all users can safely visit these protected landscapes. In this paper, we examine the challenges that emerged due to COVID-19 for PAs and their deeper causes. By considering the impact on and response of 14 popular European National and Nature Parks, we propose tentative longer-term solutions going beyond the current short-term measures that have been implemented. The most important challenges identified in our study were overcrowding, a new profile of visitors, problematic behavior, and conflicts between different user groups. A number of new measures have been introduced to tackle these challenges including information campaigns, traffic management, and establishing one-way systems on trail paths. However, measures to safeguard public health are often in conflict with other PA management measures aiming to minimize disturbance of wildlife and ecosystems. We highlight three areas in which management of PAs can learn from the experience of this pandemic: managing visitor numbers in order to avoid overcrowding through careful spatial planning, introducing educational campaigns, particularly targeting a new profile of visitors, and promoting sustainable tourism models, which do not rely on large visitor numbers. View Full-Text
Keywords: biodiversity conservation; conflict; national parks; management; pandemic; public health; wellbeing biodiversity conservation; conflict; national parks; management; pandemic; public health; wellbeing
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MDPI and ACS Style

McGinlay, J.; Gkoumas, V.; Holtvoeth, J.; Fuertes, R.F.A.; Bazhenova, E.; Benzoni, A.; Botsch, K.; Martel, C.C.; Sánchez, C.C.; Cervera, I.; Chaminade, G.; Doerstel, J.; García, C.J.F.; Jones, A.; Lammertz, M.; Lotman, K.; Odar, M.; Pastor, T.; Ritchie, C.; Santi, S.; Smolej, M.; Rico, F.S.; Waterman, H.; Zwijacz-Kozica, T.; Kontoleon, A.; Dimitrakopoulos, P.G.; Jones, N. The Impact of COVID-19 on the Management of European Protected Areas and Policy Implications. Forests 2020, 11, 1214.

AMA Style

McGinlay J, Gkoumas V, Holtvoeth J, Fuertes RFA, Bazhenova E, Benzoni A, Botsch K, Martel CC, Sánchez CC, Cervera I, Chaminade G, Doerstel J, García CJF, Jones A, Lammertz M, Lotman K, Odar M, Pastor T, Ritchie C, Santi S, Smolej M, Rico FS, Waterman H, Zwijacz-Kozica T, Kontoleon A, Dimitrakopoulos PG, Jones N. The Impact of COVID-19 on the Management of European Protected Areas and Policy Implications. Forests. 2020; 11(11):1214.

Chicago/Turabian Style

McGinlay, James, Vassilis Gkoumas, Jens Holtvoeth, Ruymán F.A. Fuertes, Elena Bazhenova, Alessandro Benzoni, Kerstin Botsch, Carmen C. Martel, Cati C. Sánchez, Isabel Cervera, Guillermo Chaminade, Juliana Doerstel, Concepción J.F. García, Angela Jones, Michael Lammertz, Kaja Lotman, Majda Odar, Teresa Pastor, Carol Ritchie, Stefano Santi, Mojca Smolej, Francisco S. Rico, Holly Waterman, Tomasz Zwijacz-Kozica, Andreas Kontoleon, Panayiotis G. Dimitrakopoulos, and Nikoleta Jones. 2020. "The Impact of COVID-19 on the Management of European Protected Areas and Policy Implications" Forests 11, no. 11: 1214.

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