Header image

18/21.1 Rural transitions: Exploring the Role of Protected Areas

Tuesday, June 27, 2023
13:45 - 15:15


Dr. Mosè Cometta
Università della Svizzera Italiana

Protected areas and spatial justice: two examples from Switzerland


This talk has two aims: to describe the creation of protected areas as an urbanisation of wilderness following the planetary urbanisation hypothesis, and to analyse how different conceptions of spatial justice are at stake in this process. Starting with the example of the rejection of two national park projects in Switzerland, the Parc Adula and the Locarnese Park, I will show the inadequacy of a bottom-up process aimed solely at PA regulation discussion.
Analyses of the public debates prior to the two Swiss project vote show a clear discrepancy: while supporters of the parks wanted to discuss specific issues, detractors referred more generally to the power relationship between urban centres and Alpine valleys. The inability of the project staff to bridge this gap led to the failure of the bottom-up approach.
It must be understood that different conceptions of spatial justice coexist and clash within society. For a project to be truly bottom-up, it must come to terms with this plurality and attempt to mediate it effectively and constructively. The Swiss examples show the limits of an approach in which the subject is too sharply delimited. The creation of a PA, as a transformation of the governance of a territory, is an important opportunity to seriously discuss a community's conception of spatial justice, a debate that must be addressed at the correct scale.
Blanca Casares Guillén

The presence of protected natural sites. Implications and added value for mountain value chains across MOVING Reference Regions.


Conservation of mountains is a key factor for sustainable development. To improve the protection of mountainous ecosystems and the livelihoods of mountain communities, in December 2021 the General Assembly of the United Nations declared the year 2022 as the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development and the UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme relaunched its World Network of Mountain Biosphere Reserves. Inspired by this special moment, the EU-funded H2020 MOVING project (MOuntain Valorisation through INterconnectedness and Green growth) carried out a survey among its 23 Reference Regions (RRs) to identify the presence of different protected natural sites on them and provide informative insights on the added value, and development implications, of these areas for the MOVING regions and their selected value chains. It emerged a diversified picture in terms of implications and added value for mountain value chains based on the type of value chain, the legislative framework, land and resource use, and the marketing strategy. Overall, 56.5% of the 23 MOVING RRs indicated that the presence of natural areas did not represent a constraint or limitation to the value chain, mountain area and community. 82.6% of the 23 MOVING RRs indicated that the presence of natural areas represent an opportunity or provide added value to the value chain, mountain area and community. This survey shows that protected areas do not hinder mountain value chains and can be used as a leverage factor to reinforce the added value of mountain products.
Rocío Rodríguez-Soler
Research Assistant
RWTH Aachen University

Place Branding in Protected Areas–What Do We Really Know About This Phenomenon?


There has been an increase of place branding in European’s protected areas in the last years. These brands are usually associated with contributions to sustainability and rural development. Even though scholarly attention has been brought to the topics of place branding and area protection separately in many different fields of study, there is a lack of research putting the combination of both into the center of attention and investigating the link between them.

To get a better understanding of this specific combination and create a solid foundation for future research, this study identifies scientific publications on place branding in large-scale protected areas of Europe, carries out a comprehensive assessment of their quality and synthesizes their results. It specifically focuses on scholars aims and research questions, their theoretical frameworks, methods, and results. Moreover, this research sheds light on the countries, regions and protected areas scholars have considered and evaluates the relevance of the relation of protected areas and place branding in their work.

A systematic literature review is used, identifying and including various studies from different fields and European countries by the use of different scientific databases like WoS and through a multilingual evaluation. This methodological approach is to be flanked by a bibliometric analysis, providing a better understanding of for example the thematic and geographical evolution of research connected to this topic. The results allow to identify research gaps, give directions for future research and enrich both the discussions about place branding and area protection.
Jesper Beverdam
University of Groningen

Towards new financial instruments for nature and landscape conservation


Nature and landscape quality are under continuous pressure in the heavily urbanized Netherlands, with enhanced pressure due to agricultural intensification, the green energy transition and structurally low and reduced government funding for nature and landscape conservation. At the same time, and especially visible during the corona crisis, people have strong attachment to places in nature and in natural landscapes, and the nature related places that people love to visit are widely acknowledged as of key importance to people’s mental and physical well-being. Furthermore, internationally we see several initiatives to find new ways of financing nature and landscapes via blended instruments, mimicking instruments from regular financial markets but combining them with nature and landscape performance targets.
The objective of this paper is to identify the main topics in ‘green’ financial instruments and ecosystem services, which feed into the construction of semi-structured interviews with Dutch stakeholders to explore their perceptions about the possibilities of developing such financial instruments for the National Parks in the Netherlands.
This paper takes inventory of 1. the non-financial dimensions included in today’s ‘green’ financial instruments, 2. Ecosystem services defined in the literature and 3. Issues/topics for the individual National Parks. Identifying said topics serves as a starting point to open up the debate about the creation of financial instruments with key stakeholders in the National Parks. These key stakeholders include, but are not limited to, farmers, regional businesses, citizens and firms operating in the supply of drinking water.

Session host

Ingo Mose
University Professor
University of Oldenburg

Andreas Voth
RWTH Aachen University



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl