Local environmental NGO roles in biodiversity governance: a Czech-German comparison

Open access


Recently, the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)s in environmental governance has been widely investigated, especially regarding the issue of mandatory public participation in policy-making within a European context. This paper aims to redirect scientific attention from their pure participation to their field actions, i.e., to the role they play in actual natural resource management, especially at the local level, and reframe local environmental NGO roles and positions based on the criteria for scale and influence. More specifically, this paper seeks to identify factors that promote NGOs as effective complements in the protection of state biodiversity and stresses local impacts of different governance schemes.

Determining factors were investigated through a series of in-depth case studies undertaken in the Czech-German border region of the eastern Krušné hory Mts. (Erzgebirge, Ore Mts.). Rather than a quantitatively oriented survey among NGOs, this study focused primarily on a specific territory and, subsequently, on the identification of relevant actor performance (including NGO representatives) within this territory. The method applied for comparison was the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework (IAD Framework). This design enabled a comparison of different social practices in the homogeneous ecosystem present on both sides of the border and captured the influence of specific social and historical cross-border features on environmental NGO performance.

Balboa CM (2014) How Successful Transnational Non-governmental Organizations Set Themselves up for Failure on the Ground. World Development 54: 273–287. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2013.09.001

Balej M, Anděl J, Raška P, Oršulák T (2008) Land use changes in northwestern part of the Czech Republic: the effects of displacement of German inhabitants. Journal of Geography and Regional Planning 1/5: 97–109.

Becker CD, Ghimire K (2003) Synergy Between Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Conservation Science Supports Forest Preservation in Ecuador. Conservation Ecology 8. On-line: http://www.consecol.org/vol8/iss1/art1

Brüntrup-Seidemann S (2011) Actual and potential roles of local NGOs in agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa. Quaterly Journal of International Agriculture 50(1): 65–78.

Čada K, Ptáčková K (2013) Possibilities and limits of collaboration between science and NGOs in the Czech Republic. Journal of Cleaner Production 49: 25–34.

Carmin J (2003) Non-governmental Organisations and Public Participation in Local Environmental Decision-making in the Czech Republic. Local Environment 8(5): 541–552.

Cent J, Mertens C, Niedzialkowski K (2013) Roles and impacts of non-governmental organizations in Natura 2000 implementation in Hungary and Poland. Environmental Conservation 40(2): 119–128.

Clement F (2010) Analysing decentralised natural resource governance: proposition for a “politicised” institutional analysis and development framework. Policy Sciences 43(2): 129–156.

Cohen-Blankshtain G, Ron A, Perez AG (2013) When an NGO Takes on Public Participation: Preparing a Plan for a Neighborhood in East Jerusalem. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 37(1): 61–77.

Crotty J, Hall SM (2013) Environmental responsibility in a transition context: Russian NGO perception and response. Environmental and Planning C: Government and Policy 31(4): 667–681.

Dombrowski K (2010) Filling the gap? An analysis of non-governmental organizations responses to participation and representation deficits in global climate governance. International Environmental Agreements 10: 397–416. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10784-010-9140-8.

Frazier J (2006) Biosphere reserves and the “Yucatán” syndrome: another look at the role of NGOs. Landscape and Urban Planning 74: 313–333.

German Environmental Appeals Act (2003) Gesetz über ergänzende Vorschriften zu Rechtsbehelfen in Umweltangelegenheiten nach der EG-Richtlinie 2003/35/EG

Haigh MJ (2006) Promoting environmental education for sustainable development: The value of links between higher education and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Journal of Geography in Higher Education 30(2): 327–349.

Harris F, Lyon F (2013) Transdisciplinary environmental research: building trust across professional cultures. Environmental Science and Policy 31: 109–119.

Hedjazi Y, Arabi F (2009) Factors Influencing Non Government Organizations’ Participantion in Environmental Conservation. International Journal of Environmental Research 3(1): 129–136.

Hrabanski M, Bidaud C, Le Coq J-F, Méral P (2013) Environmental NGOs, policy entrepreneurs of market-based instruments for ecosystem services? A comparison of Costa Rica, Madagascar and France. Forest Policy and Economics 37: 124–132.

Imperial MT (1999) Institutional Analysis and Ecosystem-Based Management: The Institutional Analysis and Development Framework. Environmental Management 24(4): 449–465.

Jepson P (2005) Governance and accountability of environmental NGOs. Environmental Science and Policy 8: 515–524.

Kabdiyeva A (2013) Developing Sustainable NGOs in Kazakhstan. Asian Social Science 9(7): 299–305. http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ass.v9n7p299

Koontz TM, Newig J (2014) Cross-level Information and Influence in Mandated Participatory Planning: Alternative Pathways to Sustainable Water Management in Germany's Implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive. Land Use Policy 38: 594–604. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2014.01.005

Leibenath M (2007) Europeanization of Cross-Border Governance? A Case-study on the Cause, Form and Consequences of a Cooperation Project in the German-Polish-Czech Border Triangle. Space & Polity 11(2): 151–167.

Leibenath M (2008) Legitimacy of Biodiversity Policies in a Multi-level Setting. The Case of Germany. In: Keulartz J, Leistra G. (Eds.) Legitimacy in European Nature Conservation Policy. Case Studies in Multilevel Governance. Berlin: Springer, pp. 233–250.

Mac Abbey E (2008) Constructive regulation of nongovernment organizations. The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance 48: 370–376.

Margerum RD (2008) A Typology of Collaboration Efforts in Environmental Management. Environemental Management 41(4): 487–500.

Ménard G (2013) Environmental non-governmental organizations: key players in development in a changing climate – a case study of Mali. Environmental Development and Sustainability 15: 117–131.

Nelson M (2013) Viewpoint - Fifty years of hydroelectric development in Chile: A history of unlearned lessons. Water Alternatives 6(2): 195–206.

Newig J, Kvarda E (2012) Participation in environmental governance: legitimate and effective? In: Hogl K, Kvarda E, Nordbeck R, Pregernig M (Eds.) Environmental Governance. London: Edward Elgar, pp. 29–45.

Niedzialkowski K, Paavola J, Jedrzejewska B (2012a) Governance of biodiversity in Poland before and after the accession to the EU: the tale of two roads. Environmental Conservation 40(2): 108-118.

Niedzialkowski K, Paavola J, Jedrzejewska B (2012b) Participation and Protected Areas Governance: the Impact of Changing Influence of Local Authorities on the Conservation of the Bialowieza Primeval Forest, Poland. Ecology and Society 17(1): 2.

O’Brien T (2011) Sustaining Regional Environmental NGOs in Latin America and Eastern Europe: Considering the Experience of the FARN and the REC. Space and Polity 15(1): 49–63.

Oakerson RJ, Parks B (2011) The Study of Local Public Economies: Multi-organizational, Multi-level Institutional Analysis and Development. Policy Studies Journal 39(1): 147–167.

Ostrom E (1986) An Agenda for the Study of Institutions. Public Choice 48(1): 3–25.

Ostrom E (2004) Understanding Institutional Diversity. NJ: Princeton University Press.

Polski MM, Ostrom E (1999) An Institutional Framework for Policy Analysis and Design. On-line: http://mason.gmu.edu/~mpolski/documents/PolskiOstromIAD.pdf.

Pasquini L, Fitzsimons J A, Cowell S, Brandon K, Wescott G (2011) The establishment of large private nature reserves by conservation NGOs: key factors for successful implementation. Fauna and Flora International 45(3): 373–380.

Potluka O, Liddle J (2014) Managing European Union Structural Funds: Using a Multilevel Governance Framework to Examine the Application of the Partnership Principle at the Project Level. Regional Studies 48(8): 1434–1447.

Reed MG (1997) The Provision of Environmental Goods and Services by Local Non-governmental Organizations: an Illustration form the Squamish Forest District, Canada. Journal of Rural Studies 13(2): 177–196.

Reed MS, Graves A, Dandy N, Posthumus H, Hubacek K, Morris J, Prell Ch, Quinn C H, Stringer L C (2009) Who’s in and why? A typology of stakeholder analysis methods for natural resource management. Journal of Environmental Management 90: 1933–1949.

Ryu J, Walmsley J D, Slinn P, Harashina S (2004) The role of environmental non-governmental organisations in the environmental impact assessment process in Japan. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal 22(4): 283–293.

Spangenberg J H (2012) NGOs between influence and participation overkill: The Merits, Strenghts and Weaknesses of Environmental Civil Society Organisaitons. In: Renn O, Reichel A, Bauer J (Eds.) Civil Society for Sustainability – A Guidebook for Connecting Science and Society. Europaeischer Hochschulverlag, pp. 5–17.

Tan Y (2014) Transparency without Democracy: The Unexpected Effects of China's Environmental Disclosure Policy. Governance 27(1): 37–62

Torfing J, Peters B G, Pierre J, Sørensen E (2012 Eds.) Interactive Governance: Advancing the Paradigm. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tuihedur Rahman HM, Hickey GM, Sarker SK (2012) A framework for evaluating collective action and informal institutional dynamics under a resource management policy of decentralization. Ecological Economics 83: 32–41.

Vaceková G, Švidroňová M (2014) Benefits and risks of self-financing of NGOs – empirical evidence from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria. Ekonomika a management 17(2): 120–130.

Valentinov V, Hielscher D, Pies I (2015) Nonprofit organizations, institutional economics, and system thinking. Economic Systems, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecosys.2014.12.002.

Vojáček O, Louda J (2017) Economic value of ecosystem services in Eastern Ore Mountains. E+M, in press.

Watson A(2013) Misunderstanding the “nature” of Co-Management: A geography of regulatory science and indigenous knowledge (IK). Environmental Management 52(5): 1085–1102.

Wearing S, McDonald M, Ponting J (2005) Building a Decommodified Research Paradigm in Tourism: The Contribution of NGOs. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 13(5): 424–439.

Wende W, Kästner A, Bastian O, Walz U, Blum A, Oertel H (2011) Analyse des ehrenamtlichen und privaten Naturschutzes in Sachsen im Auftrag des Sächsischen Staatsministeriums für Umwelt und Landwirtschaft. Leibniz-Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development, Dresden, 255 p.

Wynne-Jones S (2012) Negotiating neoliberalism: Conservationists' role in the development of payments for ecosystem services. Geoforum 43(6): 1035–1044.


The Journal of Jan Evangelista Purkyne University in Ústí nad Labem

Journal Information

Cited By


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 316 316 61
PDF Downloads 100 100 34