What Do the IUCN Categories Really Protect? A Case from the Alpine Regions in Spain?
The protected area (PA) coverage is used as an indicator of biodiversity protection worldwide. The effectiveness of using PAs as indicators has been questioned due to the diversity of designations included in such measures, especially those PAs established for other purposes than biodiversity protection. Although international standards have been developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the policies on the ground have been developed independently of the IUCN categories. This makes the use of IUCN categories dubious measures of biodiversity conservation. A management plan is crucial for effective management of the parks and for guidance on how biodiversity should be prioritized against other goals. We therefore analyzed the aims and the regulations in management plans of alpine PAs in Spain as a first step for evaluating conservation performance. We used content analysis and CAiv to assess how aims and regulations vary in relation to three explanatory factors: IUCN categories, Vegetation Zones and Autonomous Communities. We found the aims of many parks to be vague, without clear indication on how to prioritize biodiversity goals. Furthermore only 50% of them actually have a management plan, which strengthens our argument about unclear guidance of PA management. Although aims could partly be related to IUCN categories, the regulations showed no clear relationship to international policies, which reflects that aims are not necessarily implemented in practice. Devolution to Autonomous Communities could be one explanation for the large variation in management practices among parks. Further studies are needed to evaluate the impact of such policies on biodiversity.
Sitering2nd World Sustainability Forum, 01.11.12 - 30.11.12
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