Park-people relationships are crucial for the effective operation of national parks (NPs). According to this new paradigm, protected areas are increasingly considered as instruments for regional development, particularly in marginal regions. However, park-people relationships often comprise conflicts. We tried to understand park-people relationships through the views and attitudes of local people living in or around the area of the Slovak Karst NP, which is found in a marginal, less developed region within Slovakia. We carried out a questionnaire survey and applied multidimensional statistical methods for the results. We identified four attitude dimensions and six local people clusters. Clusters were compared in terms of socio-demographic characteristics, views on NP tasks, attitudes towards the NP, tourism and nature, as well as migration intentions. We found that 45% of the sampled population had positive attitudes towards the NP and nature, 29.5% were neutral and 25.5% had somewhat negative feelings. Results showed that the personal economic situation, the relationship with tourism, age, education level and profession all influence the attitude of local people towards the NP. As for the socio-economic development of the region, we found that till now, the Slovak Karst NP had only a limited role. Nonetheless, understanding the views and attitudes of local people may help to refine the NP strategy. Results suggest that NP management should strengthen the interaction with local communities and improve resource efficiency through a participatory approach to preserve natural values, improve the quality of life and stop outward migration from the region.
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