2012: Conflict management in Protected Areas

Rapeseed fields at Siggen (DE) 2012 © Richárd Novák

Exciting case studies from 8 European countries were discussed by the 16 participants of EUROPARC´s Siggen Seminars series at Gut Siggen, the Alfred Toepfer Foundation seminar centre in Holstein/Germany. The Siggen Seminars are possible only with the generous support of Alfred Toepfer Foundation.

Eric Baird from Glen Tanar in the Cairngorms National Park, a EUROPARC council member and conflict management trainer, enabled the 16 participants to analyse different conflict situation they are facing in their working environments using a set of professional conflict resolution tools in a hands-on approach. The interactive approach of the workshop made participants gain new experiences and insights toward a “changed perspective” about their skills and possibilities.

Issues of most concern are often related to tourism activities in protected areas; for instance, the behaviour of jet-skiing tourists who heavily impact on the fauna and natural habitats; hunting and commercial use of land and woods are other concerns protected area employees are facing. In one-to-one and group discussions, it became clear that most of the conflicts are based on opposing interests, such as economic/commercial use versus conservation. The lack of communication between stakeholders such as government agencies, national park organisations, local residents, farmer associations, politicians, and businesses presents an opportunity for protected area staff to step in and apply means of “mediation” in order to resolve the conflict. They can also raise awareness and encourage dialogue.