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Stakeholder Participation in Natura 2000 Management Program: Case Study of Slovenia

Laktić, Tomislav, Pezdevšek Malovrh, Špela
Forests 2018 v.9 no.10
biodiversity conservation, case studies, conservation areas, decision making, governance, interviews, issues and policy, stakeholders, surveys, Slovenia
The Natura 2000 network, which is one of the largest networks of protected areas in the world, is the core pillar in the European Union’s biodiversity conservation policy. To achieve the national enforcement of Natura 2000 and to overcome implementation problems, effective policy measures are needed, and participation among different stakeholders is required. The aim of this paper was to evaluate the process of formulation of the Natura 2000 Management Program (2015–2020) in Slovenia based on a set of criteria and indicators for the evaluation of a participatory process, and to present the differences between the stakeholders’ evaluations according to their role in the implementation process. For that purpose, stakeholders were divided into two groups—stakeholders from project partner’s institution, and others. The research was done in two steps: First, in-depth semi-structured interviews with 17 representatives of the key stakeholders’ institutions or organizations that were involved in the formulation of the Natura 2000 Management Program were carried out; in the second, a survey with 266 stakeholders involved in the formulation and decision-making process was conducted. Overall, the results show that the participatory process was well organized, independent and fair; however, not all of the requisite conditions for successful participation were fulfilled, as was shown with the sub-criteria of transparency. The only difference between the groups exists in the evaluations of the sub-criteria transparency of the process. The group of stakeholders from the project’s partner institutions were more satisfied with the transparency of the process, as the average value was 3.36, compared to the others where the average value of satisfaction was 2.80. This indicates the need for an improved, novel, and innovative approach that leads to multi-level governance.