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.