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  • AutorenbildDr. Engelbert Ruoss

Governing Future Challenges in Mediterranean Protected Areas

The intention of the book, just published in cooperation between CNR-ISMAR and the UNESCO Chair at USI – Università della Svizzera italiana, was to examine current Governance and Management Systems (GMS) of Protected Areas (PA) in the Mediterranena Area and to assess their appropriateness to face future challenges, providing reciprocal benefits to local communities and environment.

The argument is well known and discussed, nevertheless in reality the approach of the governance models still show their roots in the traditional top-down approaches with a management system focused on coordination. Commonly they have not yet adopted integrated evidence-based approaches with inclusive participation and decision-making processes.

The following guiding questions with regard to governance and management in protected areas are:

  • What are the current evidences of PAs?

  • How are the GMS facing these evidences?

  • What procedures are established to support the change processes (e.g. stakeholder involvement, participatory processes, local governance or delegated authority)?

  • What will be the future evidences and challenges of the PAs? What is the estimated time frame of the changes expected?

  • What GMS approaches and adaptation mechanisms will be needed to overcome future obstacles?

  • What is needed to launch the GMS transformation processes?

  • Which instruments and incentives could support bottom-up decision making?

The book contains eight articles, addressing different types of PAs: Biosphere Reserves, World Natural and Cultural Heritage sites, Marine and Terrestrial Protected Areas, Natura 2000 Areas, National and Regional Parks. They are increasingly facing challenges such as marine litter, invasive alien species, climate change, loss of biodiversity etc. Challenges that cannot be overcome without an appropriate GMS based on a real participatory approach and balance between conservation and development strategies.

Management Systems in areas with international institutional frameworks

The first three articles introduce the main essentials and constraints to establish new territorial Governance and Management Systems and to adapt them to national and international institutional frameworks. The three dimensions of the integrated concept, Top-down, Bottom-up and Outside-in could improve existing or establish innovative and effective tools to involve local communities and the multiple stakeholders in the decision-making processes. In the case of marine Natura 2000 network, a key conservation instrument in Europe, the ecological observatory of the Adriatic Sea (ECOAdS) illustrates a conceptual design of a common knowledge and monitoring framework and shared data management practices at transnational level overcoming the site fragmentation. The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Programme is tailored particularly to experience and establish holistic GMS, balancing conservation and sustainable development. The delegation of authority and accountability to the single Biosphere Reserves could enable them to be prepared and to promptly react to emergencies related to current and future challenges.

Main Threats for the Future: Climate - Biodiversity - Marine Litter - Tourism

Five articles deal with gaps in the GMS hindering the fight against the main threats accelerating negative impacts to PAs: climate change (CC), invasive alien species (IAS), marine litter (ML) and tourism.

Appropriate adaptation and mitigation measures to Climate Change effects are necessary to overcome constraints for action, hence strategies for a sound management of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas have to be established urgently. The IAS is associated with CC effects and represent a serious and growing threat to biodiversity, and occasionally also to human well-being. The concept of circular economy offers new opportunities, reconsidering IAS as a resource, to transform something unwanted into advantageous raw materials.

Marine litter challenge is treated in different geographic dimensions. The composition and sources of marine litter in the Mediterranean MPAs point to the threat to different environmental compartments, including peculiarities of MPAs which might increase ML impacts. Management measures able to effectively reduce marine litter in MPAs and governance frameworks necessary are proposed to achieve biodiversity conservation objectives and social and economic development of MPAs. A very particular problem is the ML issue in the UNESCO World Heritage property “Venice and its Lagoon”. It is multifaceted, linked to its heterogeneity in terms of size and items, source and fate, including the unsettled issues of its removal and treatment. The testing of low thermal pyrolysis treatment of marine litter bonds the gap between monitoring and remediation. The findings will contribute to combine more robust and coordinated prevention and remediation measures by the site’s management authorities.

The analysis of the social media platforms such as Instagram, TripAdvisor and Airbnb of the Tuscan Island Biosphere Reserve as well as the Aeolian Islands World Heritage site show tourism attractions and offers from the user’s and visitor’s perspective. The interactions on the platforms reflect the attractiveness of natural and cultural heritage, the accessibility of the heritage, the visitor perception, the quantity and quality of hospitality businesses and services, visitor’s distribution and flows in the area. The results reflect the effectiveness of the GMS of the destinations, especially with regard to the conservation and protection of cultural and natural assets, and allow to define visitor management strategies.

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