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The use of the Ecosystem Services approach in Protected Area management
Hummel, C. (2022). The use of the Ecosystem Services approach in Protected Area management. PhD Thesis. Vrije Universiteit: Amsterdam. 169 pp.

Thesis info:

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Documenttype: Doctoraat/Thesis/Eindwerk

Author keywords
    Ecosystem Services, Protected Areas, Stakeholder involvement, Managers

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    Protected Areas are considered to be a key component of nature conservation. They can play an important role in counterbalancing the impacts of ecosystem degradation. Recently, also societal aspects have been introduced into Protected Area management via the introduction of the Ecosystem Services (ES) approach. This thesis discusses the historical background of PAs, PA management, and the ES approach. Also the applicability and relevance of the ES approach for PA management is discussed. The different definitions of ES will be presented, together with different classification methods and ways of measuring ES. The conclusion is that there are still major challenges ahead in using the ES approach in PA management and therefore recommendations are given on the way forward (Chapter 2). For an optimal protection of a Protected Area it is essential to account for the variables underlying the major Ecosystem Services an area delivers, and the threats upon them. In this thesis I show that the perception of important variables differs between scientists and managers involved in Protected Area research. We found that scientists emphasise variables of abiotic and biotic nature, whereas managers highlight socio-economic, cultural and anthropogenic variables. To be able to better protect a PA it is advisable to bring perception of scientists and managers closer together. This can be done by more Intensified and harmonised communication across disciplinary and professional boundaries (Chapter 3). Involving stakeholders in PA management may enhance the protection of a PA. Fuzzy Cognitive Modelling (FCM) was used to assess stakeholders’ opinions on the management of the Wadden Sea, one of the most important Protected Areas in the Netherlands. Through FCM stakeholder’s perceptions of the most important ecological, socio-economic and cultural processes, functions and threats in the Wadden Sea were inventoried and quantified. A wide variety of stakeholders was interviewed, belonging to industry, recreation, academic education and research, policy and governance, and NGO’s. The FCM networks drawn up during our research are generally similar for the various types of stakeholders. There is overall strong agreement among all stakeholders on the most important elements and their level of importance in managing the Wadden Sea. These important elements in the Wadden Sea management are: Nature, Regulations, Management, Wadden experience and Recreation. FCMs have proven to be a practical tool involve stakeholders in the management of Protected Areas (Chapter 4). To keep track of the protection level of a PA, managers and policy makers need to determine the effectiveness of PA management in ways that are practical, scientifically sound and comparable among PAs in various terrestrial and aquatic environments. Most existing methods for measuring the managerial efficiency of PAs are however restricted to specific elements of the management or a limited number of detailed environmental aspects. These methods are often developed without the participation of practitioners. To involve practitioners more in PA research, the Protection Level Index (PLI) was developed in close cooperation with PA managers. PLI includes ecological, socio- economic, as well as managerial factors. Some factors in PLI are derived from interviews with PA managers, others are derived from GIS analyses. PLI uses a fixed protocol, and face-to-face interviews with PA managers. PLI is wider applicable than other PA quality measurements and more cost-effective. Thus, PLI can be used on a yearly basis to keep track of the progress of management activities and conservation status within and among (networks of) PAs (Chapter 5).

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