Special Issue "Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Panayiotis Dimitrakopoulos
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Environment, University of the Aegean, 811 00, Mytilene, Lesbos Island, Greece
Interests: biodiversity and ecosystem processes; biodiversity conservation and planning; functional plant ecology
Dr. Nikoleta Jones
Website
Guest Editor
Principal Research Associate, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, 16-21 Silver St, Cambridge CB3 9EP, UK
Interests: ecosystem services; sustainable forest management; human wellbeing; social impacts of protected areas; economic valuation; social capital; quantitative social research methods
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The designation of protected areas is the most widely applied policy tool for forest conservation. Despite the wide implementation of protected areas, meeting biodiversity conservation targets remains a challenge. This special issue aims to explore the role of protected areas in forest conservation and discuss their effectiveness focusing on challenges but also on opportunities for new policy directions. We invite contributions which explore the strengths and weaknesses of protected areas for forest conservation by presenting evidence of case studies from across the globe representing different types of protected areas and forest management frameworks. Ecosystem services is expected to be a key concept in the special issue especially regarding the role of Protected Areas in providing these services and links with human well-being. In this context, studies which use an inter-disciplinary approach, exploring both ecological and socio-economic impacts of forest protected areas, are warmly welcomed. Papers submitted in this special issue are also expected to contribute in the on-going academic and policy discussion regarding new management tools linked with forest conservation (eg. re-wilding, nature-based economies) which are proposed as more effective initiatives in protecting forest ecosystems.

Prof. Panayiotis G. Dimitrakopoulos
Dr. Nikoleta Jones
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • biodiversity conservation
  • conservation policy
  • ecosystem services
  • nature-based solutions
  • protected areas
  • sustainable forest management

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Management of European Protected Areas and Policy Implications
Forests 2020, 11(11), 1214; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111214 - 18 Nov 2020
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Open AccessArticle
Tree Community Composition and Dispersal Syndrome Vary with Human Disturbance in Sacred Church Forests in Ethiopia
Forests 2020, 11(10), 1082; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11101082 - 10 Oct 2020
Abstract
Research Highlights: Variations in species composition across church forests in northern Ethiopia were driven more by variations in human disturbance and community forest management than forest size. The degree of human disturbance acted as an environmental filter that selected for weedy, exotic, [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: Variations in species composition across church forests in northern Ethiopia were driven more by variations in human disturbance and community forest management than forest size. The degree of human disturbance acted as an environmental filter that selected for weedy, exotic, and wind-dispersed species regardless of forest size. Background and Objectives: Forest fragmentation can profoundly influence the long-term persistence of forests on the landscape. Habitat fragmentation can increase edge effects and limit dispersal between forest patches. In the South Gondar Administrative Zone in northern Ethiopia, many of the remaining forests are small sacred church forests governed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. Materials and Methods: We examined the drivers of woody plant species composition across 46 church forests in this region, including the influence of elevation, forest size, distance between forests, human disturbance, the presence of a wall, and the importance of local/individual community forest management at the Woreda level. We also examined how dispersal syndromes are influenced by increasing distance between forests and the extent of human disturbance within forests. Results: We found that elevational zone, distance between forests, the degree of human disturbance and Woreda had the greatest effect on species composition. Forest size and the presence of a wall were not significant drivers of species composition in these forests. Conclusions: We propose connecting forests through corridors or scattered trees to increase dispersal between forests, and greater on-the-ground protection efforts to restrict people and cattle from leaving the main trails within sacred forests Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Open AccessArticle
Timber Distribution Dynamics in Scientifically Managed Community Forests: Learning from Nepal
Forests 2020, 11(10), 1032; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11101032 - 24 Sep 2020
Abstract
In a bid to address growing timber demand, irregular shelterwood system-based scientific forestry gained momentum in Nepal in 2000. While timber production, in general, is said to have witnessed an increase, the outcomes linked to equitable distribution among users remain unclear, suggesting the [...] Read more.
In a bid to address growing timber demand, irregular shelterwood system-based scientific forestry gained momentum in Nepal in 2000. While timber production, in general, is said to have witnessed an increase, the outcomes linked to equitable distribution among users remain unclear, suggesting the need for context-specific studies on the performance of scientific forestry in terms of timber distribution among users. Taking the case of the Western Terai Region of Nepal, this paper provides an in-depth analysis of the patterns and implications of timber distribution under community forestry systems where scientific forest management (SciFM) is practiced. The study deployed focus group discussions (n = 4), key informant interviews, and a review of timber distribution processes for the past six fiscal years (2013–2019), the periods before and after the implementation of SciFM. For data analysis, a deductive approach was used; analytical themes were framed along the lines of timber-harvesting trends, timber distribution structure and processes, and timber distribution patterns based on wellbeing. The study revealed a substantial increase in timber harvesting; considering the base year, harvest increased by 45% in the second year and by 56% in the third year. This was, however, characterized by a 40% decrease in the average volume of timber for users within the community forest user group. Ninety-seven percent of the timber produced in this system was distributed among middle- and high-class groups, with only 3% available for poor households—this puts to question the intended objective of providing sufficient timber, especially to poor users. The paper concludes that technocentric efforts linked to increasing timber sufficiency (e.g., through SciFM) have failed to address the needs of the poorest of the poor, as elite capture prevails. We also call for future studies to explore pathways to deal with the hydra-headed nature of elite capture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Open AccessArticle
The Organization of Nature Conservation in State-Owned Forests in Poland and Expectations of Polish Stakeholders
Forests 2020, 11(8), 796; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11080796 - 23 Jul 2020
Abstract
Research Highlights: The presented findings result from the first large-scale research conducted in Poland in relation to the State Forests—the most important place for the protection of Polish nature. They may constitute an important contribution to the improvement of the nature conservation system. [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: The presented findings result from the first large-scale research conducted in Poland in relation to the State Forests—the most important place for the protection of Polish nature. They may constitute an important contribution to the improvement of the nature conservation system. Background and Objectives: The current model of organization of nature conservation in the State Forests in Poland is not fully effective. In regard to the growing influence of society on nature protection and the need to improve the existing system of nature conservation, this study poses the question: what are the expectations of various stakeholders as for the organization of nature conservation in the State Forests? The aim of the article is to present these expectations, to broadly discuss them, and to present recommendations for the future. Materials and Methods: The survey was conducted in 2013, among 41 various stakeholder groups in Poland. The choice of the surveyed groups was determined by their legal competence and/or practical experience in nature conservation in the State Forests. Results: A total of 77.9% of the respondents supported the concept of transferring full responsibility for nature conservation to foresters, while 51.1% supported financing of nature conservation tasks exclusively by the State Forests. In total, 46.8% of respondents believed that foresters should determine the principles and methods of nature conservation. The presented expectations of the Polish stakeholders differ from the current real situation, however, they still cannot be considered as a complete solution. Conclusions: The results indicate a need for a broader discussion and perhaps, consequently, a reorganization of the functioning of nature conservation in state-owned forests in Poland, considering the social expectations and trust in foresters. This can be inspiring also for other countries with a high proportion of state-owned forests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Open AccessArticle
What Is Threatening Forests in Protected Areas? A Global Assessment of Deforestation in Protected Areas, 2001–2018
Forests 2020, 11(5), 539; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11050539 - 12 May 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
The protection of forests is crucial to providing important ecosystem services, such as supplying clean air and water, safeguarding critical habitats for biodiversity, and reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this importance, global forest loss has steadily increased in recent decades. Protected Areas [...] Read more.
The protection of forests is crucial to providing important ecosystem services, such as supplying clean air and water, safeguarding critical habitats for biodiversity, and reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this importance, global forest loss has steadily increased in recent decades. Protected Areas (PAs) currently account for almost 15% of Earth’s terrestrial surface and protect 5% of global tree cover and were developed as a principal approach to limit the impact of anthropogenic activities on natural, intact ecosystems and habitats. We assess global trends in forest loss inside and outside of PAs, and land cover following this forest loss, using a global map of tree cover loss and global maps of land cover. While forests in PAs experience loss at lower rates than non-protected forests, we find that the temporal trend of forest loss in PAs is markedly similar to that of all forest loss globally. We find that forest loss in PAs is most commonly—and increasingly—followed by shrubland, a broad category that could represent re-growing forest, agricultural fallows, or pasture lands in some regional contexts. Anthropogenic forest loss for agriculture is common in some regions, particularly in the global tropics, while wildfires, pests, and storm blowdown are a significant and consistent cause of forest loss in more northern latitudes, such as the United States, Canada, and Russia. Our study describes a process for screening tree cover loss and agriculture expansion taking place within PAs, and identification of priority targets for further site-specific assessments of threats to PAs. We illustrate an approach for more detailed assessment of forest loss in four case study PAs in Brazil, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the United States. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Open AccessArticle
Variation in Deadwood Microsites in Areas Designated under the Habitats Directive (Natura 2000)
Forests 2020, 11(5), 486; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11050486 - 25 Apr 2020
Abstract
The continuing decline in biodiversity presents a major environmental protection challenge. The conservation of sufficiently extensive and diverse habitats requires an array of coordinated actions, often involving large areas. While a set of conservation objectives have been defined for the Natura 2000 network, [...] Read more.
The continuing decline in biodiversity presents a major environmental protection challenge. The conservation of sufficiently extensive and diverse habitats requires an array of coordinated actions, often involving large areas. While a set of conservation objectives have been defined for the Natura 2000 network, no universal methods of accomplishing them have been specified, and so they must be designed by individual Member States. Deadwood volume and the density of large deadwood pieces are widely used for evaluating the quality of forest habitat types designated under the Habitats Directive. In the present study, data from 5557 sample plots were used to evaluate the mean values of the two deadwood indicators as well as the ratio of deadwood volume to living tree volume for each of the 13 habitat types in Poland. In addition, a logistic regression model was constructed to evaluate the effects of terrain, site, and tree stand characteristics as well as protection type on deadwood volume in Natura 2000 areas. Mean deadwood volume varied greatly between habitat types, with the lowest values found for Central European lichen Scots pine forests (91T0–2.5 m3 ha−1) and Old acidophilous oak woods (9190–4.4 m3 ha−1), and the highest for Riparian mixed forests (91F0–43.1 m3 ha−1) and Acidophilous Picea forests of the montane to alpine levels (9410–55.4 m3 ha−1). The ratio of deadwood volume to living tree volume ranged from approx. 1%–17%. Additionally, the presence of large deadwood differed among habitat types: in some, there were no deadwood pieces with a diameter of ≥50 cm, while their maximum density was 6.1 pieces ha−1. The logistic regression model showed that the likelihood of a habitat type to have a ‘favorable conservation status’ as defined by deadwood abundance (a threshold of at least 20 m3 ha−1 according to Polish manuals on habitat type evaluation) increased with sample plot elevation, site fertility, and moisture, as well as stand age and volume. Positive effects were also observed for forests under strict and active protection versus managed forests. Planned efforts are necessary to enhance the quality of habitats with insufficient deadwood, especially in managed forests. Special attention should be given to areas that are readily accessible due to gentle terrain and low site moisture. Furthermore, younger stands on less fertile sites may require intervention to promote deadwood accumulation. We recommend retaining a certain proportion of mature stands until natural death and decomposition. Increasing the density of large deadwood is currently one of the most pressing conservation needs in most habitat types. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Open AccessArticle
Land Use and Access in Protected Areas: A Hunter’s View of Flexibility
Forests 2020, 11(4), 481; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11040481 - 24 Apr 2020
Abstract
Anthropologists sometimes ask what flexible practices mean when used in instances of land use and access among protected area regimes which control the land and the indigenous or local people who claim rights to the land. In the Mount Cameroon National Park (MCNP), [...] Read more.
Anthropologists sometimes ask what flexible practices mean when used in instances of land use and access among protected area regimes which control the land and the indigenous or local people who claim rights to the land. In the Mount Cameroon National Park (MCNP), West Africa, this question comes with urgency because of the historical disputes associated with defining access and user-rights to land within this park. In this case, we present an ethnographic study using a transect walk with a native Bakweri hunter to map and analyze his opinions about land use and access into the park. The findings show that, despite State prohibitions for this park, customary practices still occur for mutual reasons, whereas, in situations of disputes, other practices continue on the land unnoticed. We conclude that this flexibility is indicative of reciprocal negotiations and cultural resilience that preserve not only the biodiversity of the park but also the culturally relevant needs of people. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Open AccessArticle
Stakeholders’ Social Network in the Participatory Process of Formulation of Natura 2000 Management Programme in Slovenia
Forests 2020, 11(3), 332; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11030332 - 17 Mar 2020
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Deforestation and Connectivity among Protected Areas of Tanzania
Forests 2020, 11(2), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11020170 - 04 Feb 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Protected Areas (PAs) in Tanzania had been established originally for the goal of habitat, landscape and biodiversity conservation. However, human activities such as agricultural expansion and wood harvesting pose challenges to the conservation objectives. We monitored a decade of deforestation within 708 PAs [...] Read more.
Protected Areas (PAs) in Tanzania had been established originally for the goal of habitat, landscape and biodiversity conservation. However, human activities such as agricultural expansion and wood harvesting pose challenges to the conservation objectives. We monitored a decade of deforestation within 708 PAs and their unprotected buffer areas, analyzed deforestation by PA management regimes, and assessed connectivity among PAs. Data came from a Landsat based wall-to-wall forest to non-forest change map for the period 2002–2013, developed for the definition of Tanzania’s National Forest Reference Emissions Level (FREL). Deforestation data were extracted in a series of concentric bands that allow pairwise comparison and correlation analysis between the inside of PAs and the external buffer areas. Half of the PAs exhibit either no deforestation or significantly less deforestation than the unprotected buffer areas. A small proportion (10%; n = 71) are responsible for more than 90% of the total deforestation; but these few PAs represent more than 75% of the total area under protection. While about half of the PAs are connected to one or more other PAs, the remaining half, most of which are Forest Reserves, are isolated. Furthermore, deforestation inside isolated PAs is significantly correlated with deforestation in the unprotected buffer areas, suggesting pressure from land use outside PAs. Management regimes varied in reducing deforestation inside PA territories, but differences in protection status within a management regime are also large. Deforestation as percentages of land area and forested areas of PAs was largest for Forest Reserves and Game Controlled areas, while most National Parks, Nature Reserves and Forest Plantations generally retained large proportions of their forest cover. Areas of immediate management concern include the few PAs with a disproportionately large contribution to the total deforestation, and the sizeable number of PAs being isolated. Future protection should account for landscapes outside protected areas, engage local communities and establish new PAs or corridors such as village-managed forest areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Open AccessArticle
Conservation–Protection of Forests for Wildlife in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley
Forests 2020, 11(1), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11010075 - 08 Jan 2020
Abstract
The nearly ubiquitous bottomland hardwood forests that historically dominated the Mississippi Alluvial Valley have been greatly reduced in area. In addition, changes in hydrology and forest management have altered the structure and composition of the remaining forests. To ameliorate the detrimental impact of [...] Read more.
The nearly ubiquitous bottomland hardwood forests that historically dominated the Mississippi Alluvial Valley have been greatly reduced in area. In addition, changes in hydrology and forest management have altered the structure and composition of the remaining forests. To ameliorate the detrimental impact of these changes on silvicolous wildlife, conservation plans have emphasized restoration and reforestation to increase the area of interior (core) forest habitat, while presuming negligible loss of extant forest in this ecoregion. We assessed the conservation–protection status of land within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley because without protection, existing forests are subject to conversion to other uses. We found that only 10% of total land area was currently protected, although 28% of extant forest was in the current conservation estate. For forest patches, we prioritized their need for additional conservation–protection based on benefits to forest bird conservation afforded by forest patch area, geographic location, and hydrologic condition. Based on these criteria, we found that 4712 forest patches warranted conservation–protection, but only 109 of these forest patches met our desired conservation threshold of >2000 ha of core forest that was >250 m from an edge. Overall, 35% of the area of forest patches warranting conservation–protection was protected within the conservation estate. Even so, for those forest patches identified as most in need of conservation–protection, less than 10% of their area was currently protected. The conservation–protection priorities described fill an unmet need for land trusts and other conservation partners pursuing strategic forest protection in support of established bird conservation objectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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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
Forests 2019, 10(12), 1099; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10121099 - 02 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
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, [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
Open AccessArticle
Forestry Policy, Conservation Activities, and Ecosystem Services in the Remote Misuku Hills of Malawi
Forests 2019, 10(12), 1056; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10121056 - 21 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Research Highlights: Most of Malawi’s land area has been deforested; however, expansive indigenous forests remain in the remote Misuku Hills in Malawi’s northern region. Despite its conservation potential, this region of Malawi has been overlooked in forestry conservation research. Background and Objectives: The [...] Read more.
Research Highlights: Most of Malawi’s land area has been deforested; however, expansive indigenous forests remain in the remote Misuku Hills in Malawi’s northern region. Despite its conservation potential, this region of Malawi has been overlooked in forestry conservation research. Background and Objectives: The Misuku Hills is one the most floristically diverse regions in Malawi, but this region is facing similar pressures and forestry policy enforcement challenges that drive deforestation of other regions. This study therefore addresses the questions: What are the forestry policy challenges and opportunities for forest conservation in Malawi? What conservation activities are taking place in the Misuku Hills in support of these policies? What ecosystem services are residents using that are in need of protection? Materials and Methods: A comprehensive inventory and review of the national forest policies and current programs in the Misuku Hills region was compiled through document reviews and communications with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. A Photovoice exercise was conducted with residents of Chikutu village to create an inventory of resident-identified ecosystem services. Results: While there is an impressive array of policies in place to protect the forests of Malawi, there is little institutionalization or enforcement of these policies. There have been funded conservation programs in the Misuku Hills, but these have been limited to the areas surrounding the three small public forest reserves. The Photovoice exercise revealed that residents rely on an abundance of forest ecosystem services to support their livelihoods, including food, medicine, and timber products. Conclusions: The challenges to conserving forests and their ecosystem services are being met at a local level in a variety of creative ways in the Misuku Hills (e.g., tree planting, beekeeping) that could be used as community-based models for other areas in Africa and elsewhere, where people depend directly on these services to meet daily needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Open AccessArticle
The Institutional Structure of Land Use Planning for Urban Forest Protection in the Post-Socialist Transition Environment: Serbian Experiences
Forests 2019, 10(7), 560; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10070560 - 04 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In recent decades, Serbia has been undergoing a period of post-socialist transition that has significantly altered the value system underlying spatial development due to alteration of ownership frameworks and land use rights. In consequence, issues have arisen of how to strike a balance [...] Read more.
In recent decades, Serbia has been undergoing a period of post-socialist transition that has significantly altered the value system underlying spatial development due to alteration of ownership frameworks and land use rights. In consequence, issues have arisen of how to strike a balance between the various interests involved in the distribution of spatial resources and how to control the outcomes of public policies. Land use planning has been identified as an efficient instrument for implementing the public policy value framework. The objective of this paper is to identify the key points of land use planning in relation to urban forest management of significance for the maintenance of urban forests in the environment of post-socialist institutional transformation in Serbia. Seen as an institutional structure, the practice of land use planning in Serbia is the product of a stable interaction between the set of interrelated rules, procedures and organisational units that allows spatial development outcomes that take into account and safeguard land resources and, ultimately, urban forests. The research was carried out in relation to the concept of institutional transformation across three scales: macro/governance, meso/coordination and micro/agency: (a) components of the regulatory framework; (b) procedures for cooperation between stakeholders; and (c) specific activities of land use planning practice. As a result, the concept of Land use Planning for Urban Forest Protection (LUPUFP) in Serbia was established. It identifies components of institutional structure of importance for regulating system changes in the post-socialist transition environment and steering them towards the establishment of a value framework that allows the agenda of saving urban forests to be implemented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Open AccessArticle
What (De)Motivates Forest Users’ Participation in Co-Management? Evidence from Nepal
Forests 2019, 10(6), 512; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10060512 - 16 Jun 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
The co-management concept has been echoed in scientific literature for over two decades. Emphasis has been tailored towards an understanding of structural and functional issues linked to its application and the outcomes thereof. However, a crucial aspect which still begs for scientific and [...] Read more.
The co-management concept has been echoed in scientific literature for over two decades. Emphasis has been tailored towards an understanding of structural and functional issues linked to its application and the outcomes thereof. However, a crucial aspect which still begs for scientific and policy edification, concerns the motivational drivers of actors’ participation in co-management arrangements. Studies contend that actors are motivated to participate in co-management based on their perceived benefits (e.g., income). Conclusions from these lines of argument further raise a theoretical quagmire, requiring further grounding, with regards to context-specific (de)motivators of users’ participation in co-management. The case of Nepal is pertinent. Although Nepal has a rich community-based forest management history, scientific investigations have virtually ignored the motivational drivers of participation in the co-management of natural resources (forests). Against this background, this paper seeks to explore the following: (i) the decision-making and monitoring structure of rules regulating the co-management of forests, (ii) the implications of this system on users’ motivation to participate, and (iii) the motivational drivers of users’ participation in co-management. To achieve this, five focus group discussions and 10 key informant interviews were conducted in five villages (Kunjo, Titi, Parshyang, Cchayo, and Taglung) within the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA). We further employed narratives, framework, and thematic analyses to discuss the decision-making structure and motivational aspects of co-management. The results point to the following conclusions: (1) Despite the rather top-down decision-making setting, users remain motivated to participate in co-management. (2) Interestingly, the motivation by actors to participate is not largely driven by users’ perceived benefits. The results present another twist, a deviation from the previously understood rationale, which should be factored into co-management theory development. However, the paper equally makes a succinct request for further studies, including quantitative investigations, to ground this assertion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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Open AccessArticle
Preserving Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in West African Forest, Watersheds, and Wetlands: A Review of Incentives
Forests 2019, 10(6), 479; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10060479 - 31 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
While biodiversity and ecosystem services derived from the natural environment are the backbones of West African rural livelihood, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, conflicts, and climate change threaten the continued provision of ecosystem services. This threat creates an urgent need to safeguard the [...] Read more.
While biodiversity and ecosystem services derived from the natural environment are the backbones of West African rural livelihood, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, conflicts, and climate change threaten the continued provision of ecosystem services. This threat creates an urgent need to safeguard the integrity of the environment. Evaluating the effectiveness of environmental conservation projects is central towards designing and scaling-up successful conservation projects. Using secondary literature and project reports, we reviewed ongoing and completed conservation projects in the West African sub-region. Scientific work on incentives for ecosystem services in sub-Saharan Africa typically focuses on Southern and Eastern Africa, leaving Western Africa underserved. This study fills this literature gap by compiling lessons from conservation projects in West Africa to offer region-specific incentives that should inform the design of conservation projects in the region. The study shows that the way forward is a holistic, sustainable development approach that mirrors and meets strategies outlined in Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 5, 8, 13, and 17: No Poverty, End Hunger and Promote Sustainable Agriculture, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Climate Action, and Partnerships for the Goals, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas in Forest Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities)
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