Stakeholder participation has become an important driving force in policy decision-making and implementation, particularly in the nature conservation sector, where complex interactions and conflict of interest between stakeholders are common. A stakeholder analysis, which was complemented with a social network analysis, was used to examine the cooperation and conflict network between stakeholders, their institutions, and sectors in the case of the formulation of the Natura 2000 Management programme in Slovenia for the period 2015–2020 (PUN). Using data from a web survey (n
= 167), cooperation and conflict networks were analysed while using degree centrality, indegree centrality, betweenness centrality, and blockmodeling. The results of the stakeholder analysis showed that the highest number of stakeholders that are involved in the participatory process of PUN was from the forestry and hunting sector, followed by the agriculture and nature conservation sector. The results of the cooperation network showed that the network is highly centralized, with only few institutions taking a central position in the PUN process (Institute for Nature Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, and the Slovenian Forest Service). Moreover, the nature conservation sector was, on average, a sector with the highest concentration of power. In addition, in the cooperation network, which was fragmented across sectors, there were institutions that belonged to the same sector, which tended to cooperate with each other. The analysis of the conflict network showed that institutions with a central position in the cooperation network also had a central role in the conflict network. In addition, conflicts between institutions more frequently appeared among institutions from different sectors. The exceptions were institutions from the fishery and water sector, as this sector seemed to have many conflicts within it. Based on a blockmodeling, four groups of institutions were identified according to their cooperation network (core institutions, semi-core institutions, semi-periphery institutions, and periphery institutions). Our finding suggested that the participatory process of formulating PUN needs to be improved in such a way that in the future various stakeholders, especially excluded local ones, are more actively involved and a balance of the power between the stakeholders involved achieved.
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