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18/21.2 Rural transitions: Exploring the Role of Protected Areas

Tuesday, June 27, 2023
15:45 - 17:15


Robert Pazur
research scientist, Institute of Geography
Slovak Academy of Sciences

Second house development in the buffer of the protected area: a case study from Slovakia


More than 23% of Slovakia is covered by protected areas with some level of protection
of different species and cultural heritage. These areas interact with the surrounding landscape and such interactions are important for sustaining the species population,ecological processes and ecosystem services. At the same time, development of individually owned real estate, used for personal recreation, as second homes and/or for commercial rental became increasingly popular in the proximity of protected areas. Rapid development in the hinterland of the national park may degrade the ecosystem services provided by the national parks. In this study, we document the housing development in the buffer zone of the Tatra national park, Slovakia. The buffer zone in this area offers an attractive space for development due to the terrain properties, a unique mountain view, accessibility and legacies of land ownership. Our results showed that all these factors contributed to the likelihood of housing development. We also found the diversity between the administrative borders of the affected villages which is likely driven by the regulation tools implied by the local government .This study poses the first complex picture of the housing development in the buffer zones of protected areas in Slovakia and may serve as a baseline for protecting the open space in the vicinity of protected areas.
Dr. Liron Shani
Hebrew University

Nature protectors? Conflicts, common interests and cooperation between farmers and environmental organizations in Israel


The long history of tension between farmers and environmentalists has been documented in literature. But how did these two groups, which were rivals for a long time, come together and form a coalition for protected areas?

This paper examines ethnographically the cooperation between residents of rural areas of Israel and environmental organizations in the preservation of open spaces using the example of the struggle for the preservation of open spaces in the rural areas of Israel. By describing the "political policy window" in which interests were connected and integrated, resulting in cooperation and narratives around it, the paper analyzes the mutual impact of the collaboration on the two groups and argues that it is not only about shared interests, but also about identity, place, and integrating competing narratives.
Jingyu Li
Phd Candidate
University of Groningen

Residents’ place meanings in heavily touristified protected areas:A participatory mapping study in Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area, China.


Nature conservation plans increasingly incorporate residents’ place meanings. However, these place meanings tend to be considered and documented as static in time and as predominantly cultural, especially in Indigenous or ethnic contexts, which may hamper the inclusiveness of protected area governance. This paper uses a mixed-methods case study of Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area in China to illustrate the fallacy of such assumptions. We focused on how residents’ place meanings were diverse, fluctuating, and affected by changes in economic circumstances. We found a mismatch between documented ‘traditional’ place meanings of residents and respondents’ current senses of place. The current senses of place revolved around the tourism economy, following protected area designation and rapid tourism growth in the 1990s. The results illustrate that the co-evolution of protected areas and tourism can affect residents’ place meanings. This complicates finding a balance between economic development, nature conservation and local identities, a balance which is sought after in a sustainability context. An adaptive co-management plan that pays attention to residents’ diverse and changing place meanings is indispensable to work towards this balance but is difficult to install, especially in already heavily touristified areas.
Maria Lucia Bellenzani
Federal University of ABC

Protected areas as a key to rural endogenous development: the Capivari-Monos protected landscape, São Paulo, Brazil.


Environmental protection is not about nature, but about nature-society relationship and culture. Protected Landscapes (IUCN Category V) can be seen as instruments for planning and territorial management as they enable economic activities and nature conservation through participatory management. The Capivari-Monos Protected Landscape is located in São Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil, covering an extensive rural area on the city’s outskirts, between Parks (IUCN Category II) and the urban expansion front. Before its creation in 2001, this region was not included in public policies, and the debate about its future fell into two possibilities: nature conservation or social inclusion, never considered together. Community leaders and fringe actors at the municipality claimed for the creation of the Protected Landscape, which was followed by the institution of the Participatory Management Council; thus, this “left-behind” region started to be included in the municipal agenda. Family farmers, community leaders, environmentalists and other stakeholders achieved a place to debate, and to pressure the city government and to create awareness in civil society. Rural development, an expression that was not part of the municipal agenda, began to be seen as an alternative for São Paulo’s outskirts. In 2014, this area was reconsidered as rural in the Strategic Master Plan. After that, projects aimed at the agroecological transition, ecological tourism and traditional culture gained strength and the respective public budget increased. Looking at the process, it is important to understand the role of the designation as protected area in inserting sustainable rural development into the conservation agenda.

Session host

Stephen Adaawen
University of Groningen



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

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