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Protected Areas and Their Contribution to Sustainable Development

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainability, Biodiversity and Conservation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 October 2022) | Viewed by 18819

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of La Laguna, 38200 Tenerife, Spain
Interests: anthropology; heritage; tourism; sociocultural impacts of protected areas

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Guest Editor
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, La Laguna University, Tenerife (Canary Islands), Spain
Interests: sociocultural effects of tourism; conceptualization and management of nature; patrimonialization process

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Guest Editor
Department of Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution, Complutense University of Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: social-ecological systems; urban–rural gradients; land planning; simulation scenarios; landscape structure; global change; socioeconomic models
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

We are pelased to invite you to contribute to an upcoming Special Issue of the open-access journal Sustainability. This Issue is being guest-edited by P. Díaz-Rodríguez, A.J. Rodríguez-Darias and C. Arnaiz-Schmitz. The deadline for manuscript submissions is 15 May 2022. Our aim is to compile a Special Issue that highlights research in recent trends in the debates on the utility of Protected Areas as a tool for sustainable development. These spaces are a complex construct with multiple socio–environmental implications.

The conception and analysis of Protected Areas (PA) have been approached until today with different perspectives that range from i) their praise as a key tool for conservation of nature and, with it, biodiversity, ii) as a reference to mitigate Climate Change, up to iii) their contribution to the development of local societies through, above all, synergies with the tourism system. On the other hand, more critical approaches call for governance structures and participation of local populations, warning of the dangers of the perverse use of these figures as a re-territorialization mechanism for the sake of the capitalizaion of spaces, according to some neoliberal strategies linked to certain conceptions of nature conservation (Buscher et al., 2012; Apostolopoulou et al., 2014; Cortés-Vazquez, Apostolopoulou, 2020).

The global system of protected areas houses more than 100,000 spaces (around 15% of the earth's surface). On the one hand, this environmental management model is considered the most successful instrument for nature conservation (CBD, 2008) and a key element from which to advance towards sustainable development. On the other hand, its impacts on certain socio–environmental networks and the life chances of certain populations are incontestable; it is estimated that this model has generated 130 million refugees (Huete, 2012).

Classic conservation approaches focus on the preservation of biodiversity, recognition of emblematic rare species and wild-looking landscapes, with reserves generally being subjectively delimited. Faced with the human impacts of increasing severity and the limitation of resources, conservation strategies have been complemented based on a more holistic approach (Fischer et al., 2006; Redford, Adams, 2009; De Aranzabal et al., 2008, 2009; Pineda et al., 2011). However, although such strategies recognize the importance of PA, their efforts are focused on truly sustainable management–maintenance of biological diversity (Pineda et al., 2002) and natural turnovers with lower alteration rates than those of recovery (Pineda, 2020) of larger areas and perspectives of multifunctional landscape, including its inhabitants, their productive activities (Pence et al., 2003; O'Farrell et al., 2009) and the influence of their symbolic representations of the territory in shaping the landscape (Ingold, 2000). From this point of view, the spatial planning and management model must therefore contemplate the relationships between its inhabitants, the development of a regional socio-economy less conditioned to the current global transport networks dependent on enormous energy consumption. The managers of these areas, as well as their visitors, considering the growing importance of tourism, can and should recognize that the value of many of these (now patrimonialized) sites is largely due to the historical interaction between natural and socio–ecological processes.

The different approaches to the analysis of the PA open up an interesting and undoubtedly prolific field of study on which we can reflect in this Special Issue. The current variety of management and regulatory policies, as well as the very different uses that can take place in a same region respond to different conceptions about what is worth being ‘valued’. The use of these spaces as a tool for development based on socio–ecological perspectives offers a remarkable variety of roles and interests that often require consensus and negotiation measures. In recent decades, the historical trend towards vertical government management of almost all types of PA has begun to open up towards alternative models that include local communities, the private sector or integrated mixed management networks as actors. In the predominant naturalistic paradigm in the management of PA, a socio–ecological conception is already observed with the perspective of interdependence between territory and culture, evidencing necessary governance processes in these places. Socio–ecological sustainability becomes a key factor in the management of these spaces and their potential as a tool for development.

The aim of this Special Issue is to promote and share reflections on the challenge faced by PA as a tool for sustainable development, their contribution to the SDGs, the complexity in their interactions with cultures, productive activities and tourism, as well as the resilience mechanism linked to them. Original research articles and reviews are welcome, including (but not limited to) contributions adressing particular or comparative case studies, analytical methods or emerging trends.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Pablo Díaz
Dr. Alberto J. Rodríguez Darias
Dr. Cecilia Arnaiz Schmitz
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 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

  • climate change
  • ecosystem services
  • environmental management
  • governance
  • nature conservation
  • patrimonialization of nature
  • protected areas
  • sustainable development
  • tourism

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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5 pages, 199 KiB  
Editorial
Protected Areas and Their Contribution to Sustainable Development
by Pablo Díaz-Rodríguez, Alberto Jonay Rodríguez-Darias and Cecilia Arnaiz-Schmitz
Sustainability 2024, 16(5), 1763; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16051763 - 21 Feb 2024
Viewed by 697
Abstract
Towards the end of the 19th century, a small fraction of humanity finally embraced an “official” consciousness regarding the conservation of nature [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas and Their Contribution to Sustainable Development)

Research

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16 pages, 1868 KiB  
Article
Identifying, Monitoring, and Evaluating Sustainable Ecotourism Management Criteria and Indicators for Protected Areas in Türkiye: The Case of Camili Biosphere Reserve
by Inci Zeynep Aydin and Atakan Öztürk
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 2933; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15042933 - 6 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2108
Abstract
Although many criteria and indicator sets have been developed for sustainable ecotourism management in many countries around the world, such a set of criteria and indicators has not been developed in Türkiye yet. The aim of this study was to develop sustainable ecotourism [...] Read more.
Although many criteria and indicator sets have been developed for sustainable ecotourism management in many countries around the world, such a set of criteria and indicators has not been developed in Türkiye yet. The aim of this study was to develop sustainable ecotourism management criteria and indicators specific to Türkiye’s social, economic, and ecological differences and to investigate the possibilities of using this developed set in the sustainable management of the Camili Biosphere Reserve Area. The set that consisted of 12 criteria and 68 indicators prepared based on WTO and UNWTO criteria and indicator sets was used as a starting point. Within the scope of the Delphi method, as a result of three stages of repeated questionnaires, a set of criteria and indicators consisting of 11 criteria and 101 indicators was reached, based on the suggestions and consensus of four expert groups. In the next step, the adaptation and prioritization of the national sustainable ecotourism management criteria and indicator set for the Camili Biosphere Reserve Area were realized using the Analytical Hierarchy Process method, depending on the opinions of four local expert groups. As a result, it was concluded that the ecotourism activities carried out in the Camili Biosphere Reserve received a total score of 95.4 and that the ecotourism activities in the area were positively sustainable, with an average of 69.1%. It was determined that ecotourism activities in the Camili Biosphere Reserve are positively sustainable in terms of “level of awareness and perception of the field”, “socio-economic benefits to the local people”, “local participation”, “financial structure”, “environmental education and practices“, and “visitor satisfaction” criteria. However, in order to ensure the sustainability of ecotourism activities both at the country level and at the local level, studies should be carried out with a participatory approach by establishing a balance between the expectations of the local people and the income obtained from ecotourism, by providing a central authority, and by making improvements in the financing structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas and Their Contribution to Sustainable Development)
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16 pages, 1266 KiB  
Article
Whose Sense of Place? Catering for Residents and Tourists from an Open-Access Protected Area in South Africa
by Tessa Rouillard, Keagan Deponselle and Joana Carlos Bezerra
Sustainability 2022, 14(23), 15525; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142315525 - 22 Nov 2022
Viewed by 1347
Abstract
In addition to providing benefits to people, protected areas are valued in ways that go beyond the tangible. A sense of place, and the collection of values, feelings, and meanings associated with a place, can illuminate people-place relationships. Understanding how people relate to [...] Read more.
In addition to providing benefits to people, protected areas are valued in ways that go beyond the tangible. A sense of place, and the collection of values, feelings, and meanings associated with a place, can illuminate people-place relationships. Understanding how people relate to a place is essential in acquiring support for protected areas. This research investigates tourists’ and residents’ sense of place in Knysna, an open-access section of the Garden Route National Park, South Africa. Data was collected through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The sense of place was characterised using five variables: physical, cultural, social, dependent, and ideological. Although ‘physical’ was the dominant variable for both tourists and residents, the ‘ideological’ for residents and the ‘cultural’ for tourists came second, highlighting the importance of safe places and recreational activities, respectively. The physical environment influences sense of place, and the importance of protected areas to stakeholders offers an opportunity for management to engage with the public. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas and Their Contribution to Sustainable Development)
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12 pages, 3835 KiB  
Article
Stakeholder Perceptions Can Distinguish ‘Paper Parks’ from Marine Protected Areas
by Veronica Relano, Tiffany Mak, Shelumiel Ortiz and Daniel Pauly
Sustainability 2022, 14(15), 9655; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14159655 - 5 Aug 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2680
Abstract
While numerous Marine Protected Areas (MPA) have been created in the last decades, their effectiveness must be assessed in the context of the country’s biodiversity conservation policies and must be verified by local observations. Currently, the observations of local stakeholders, such as those [...] Read more.
While numerous Marine Protected Areas (MPA) have been created in the last decades, their effectiveness must be assessed in the context of the country’s biodiversity conservation policies and must be verified by local observations. Currently, the observations of local stakeholders, such as those from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academics, government civil servants, journalists, and fishers, are not considered in any MPA database. The Sea Around Us has added observations from local stakeholders to address this gap, adding their perspectives to its reconstructed fisheries catch database, and to at least one MPA in each country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. It is important to pursue and incentivize stakeholder knowledge sharing to achieve a better understanding of the current level of marine protection, as this information is a valuable addition to the existing MPA databases. To address this gap, we demonstrated that personal emails containing a one-question questionnaire about the fishing levels in an MPA are an excellent way to gather data from local stakeholders, and that this works especially well for respondents in NGOs, academia, and governments. Of the stakeholders who replied to our personalized email, 66% provided us with the fishing level of the MPA that we asked for. The paper also presents how to access this information through the Sea Around Us website, which details in anonymized form the most common fishing levels for each selected MPA, as perceived or observed by different local stakeholder groups. This information is a unique and novel addition to a website that is concerned with marine conservation and contributes to a more accurate and inclusive discourse around MPAs. This information also helps to identify the gaps that need to be addressed to turn ‘paper parks’ (i.e., MPAs that are legally designated but not effective) into effective MPAs, which can contribute to climate-resilient ‘blue economies’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas and Their Contribution to Sustainable Development)
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21 pages, 4609 KiB  
Article
A Methodological Proposal for the Climate Change Risk Assessment of Coastal Habitats Based on the Evaluation of Ecosystem Services: Lessons Learnt from the INTERREG Project ECO-SMART
by Alberto Barausse, Cécil Meulenberg, Irene Occhipinti, Marco Abordi, Lara Endrizzi, Giovanna Guadagnin, Mirco Piron, Francesca Visintin, Liliana Vižintin and Alessandro Manzardo
Sustainability 2022, 14(13), 7567; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14137567 - 21 Jun 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2929
Abstract
Climate change is seriously impacting coastal biodiversity and the benefits it provides to humans. This issue is particularly relevant in the case of the European Union’s Natura 2000 network of areas for nature protection, where the sensitivity of local ecosystems calls for intervention [...] Read more.
Climate change is seriously impacting coastal biodiversity and the benefits it provides to humans. This issue is particularly relevant in the case of the European Union’s Natura 2000 network of areas for nature protection, where the sensitivity of local ecosystems calls for intervention to increase resistance and resilience to climate-related risks. Given the complex ways in which climate can influence conservation hotspot areas, there is a need to develop effective strategic approaches and general operational models to identify priorities for management and inform adaptation and mitigation measures. Here, a novel methodological proposal to perform climate risk assessment in Natura 2000 sites is presented that implements the systematic approach of ISO 14090 in combination with the theoretical framework of ecosystem services assessment and local stakeholder participation to identify climate-related issues for local protected habitats and improve the knowledge base needed to plan sustainable conservation and restoration measures. The methodology was applied to five Natura 2000 sites located along the Adriatic coast of Italy and Slovenia. Results show that each of the assessed sites, despite being along the coast of the same sea, is affected by different climate-related issues, impacting different habitats and corresponding ecosystem services. This novel methodology enables a simple and rapid screening for the prioritization of conservation actions and of the possible further investigations needed to support decision making, and was found to be robust and of general applicability. These findings highlight the importance of designing site-specific adaptation measures, tailored to address the peculiar response to climate change of each site in terms of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas and Their Contribution to Sustainable Development)
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13 pages, 957 KiB  
Article
A Model-Based Assessment for the Ability of National Nature Reserves to Conserve the Picea Species in China under Predicted Climate Conditions
by Qian Wang, Chun-Jing Wang and Ji-Zhong Wan
Sustainability 2022, 14(12), 7406; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14127406 - 17 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1939
Abstract
Climate change has a profound impact on the conservation and management of the Picea species, and establishing more nature reserves would be an effective way to conserve wild species in general. Based on a novel computational method using ecological niche modeling to predict [...] Read more.
Climate change has a profound impact on the conservation and management of the Picea species, and establishing more nature reserves would be an effective way to conserve wild species in general. Based on a novel computational method using ecological niche modeling to predict the potential geographical distribution of species and a spatial decision support system, the planning process could predict the future distribution of the Picea species and thus select appropriate nature reserves. In this research, we utilized systematic conservation planning to define priority conservation areas for the Picea species in China according to future climate predictions. We hypothesized that: (1) the distribution of the Picea species could be changed under predicted climate conditions in China; (2) the current national nature reserves had sufficient capacity to conserve Picea species under predicted climate conditions in China; and (3) there were still deficiencies in the planned conservation for the Picea species based on predicted climate predictions in China. The results of a spatial analysis showed that the predicted climate would have an impact on the area of distribution of the Picea species. Current nature reserves have a strong potential to conserve the Picea species. However, the conservation of the Picea species in the existing nature reserves was not adequate. There were still many Picea specimens outside the reserve that would be threatened. This research systematically improved the research on the Picea species, and it also scientifically identified the suitable growth and conserved areas of the Picea species in China to provide an empirical basis for the conservation and management of the Picea species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas and Their Contribution to Sustainable Development)
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20 pages, 1485 KiB  
Article
Perception of the Impacts of Tourism by the Administrations of Protected Areas and Sustainable Tourism (Un)Development in Slovakia
by Ľubomír Štrba, Jana Kolačkovská, Branislav Kršák, Csaba Sidor and Marián Lukáč
Sustainability 2022, 14(11), 6696; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14116696 - 30 May 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3064
Abstract
Sustainable tourism development within protected areas has been a subject of interest for professionals. The effective development of nature-based tourism can be beneficial to both the environment and people. This work presents the results of research on the positive and negative impacts of [...] Read more.
Sustainable tourism development within protected areas has been a subject of interest for professionals. The effective development of nature-based tourism can be beneficial to both the environment and people. This work presents the results of research on the positive and negative impacts of tourism in protected areas of Slovakia as perceived by the administrations of individual protected areas of the country. Subsequently, the paper highlights the major issues affecting sustainable tourism development in protected areas in Slovakia, based on a review of recent legislation and strategic documents. The results of the study indicate that the status of a large-scale protected area does not play a role in the perception of the impact of tourism. The most significant impacts of tourism in protected areas, according to their administrations’ perceptions, include an increase in waste production, informing local people about the value of the natural and cultural heritage, the education of visitors, the conflict of interest in using natural resources when doing business in a protected area, and the destruction of natural habitats. However, when linking the impacts of tourism to sustainable tourism development in these areas, current Slovak legislation does not allow for the sufficient development of nature-based tourism in protected areas in Slovakia. In this regard, appropriate measures are required to positively change the recent situation in this field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas and Their Contribution to Sustainable Development)
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Other

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15 pages, 1225 KiB  
Essay
Some Considerations on the Implications of Protected Areas for Sustainable Development
by Alberto Jonay Rodríguez-Darias and Pablo Díaz-Rodríguez
Sustainability 2023, 15(3), 2767; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15032767 - 3 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2209
Abstract
This essay raises some reflections on the implications of protected areas in the processes of social construction related to the conception of nature, its limitations as a strategy for environmental policies (related to ecosystem connectivity and over the management of human activities linked [...] Read more.
This essay raises some reflections on the implications of protected areas in the processes of social construction related to the conception of nature, its limitations as a strategy for environmental policies (related to ecosystem connectivity and over the management of human activities linked to its functioning), and its public use (encouraging contemplative and tourist uses over productive activities). This essay focuses on some aspects of protected areas as a territorial management model, with the aim of provoking reflection on their implications to sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protected Areas and Their Contribution to Sustainable Development)
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