Socioeconomic Impacts of Protection Status on Residents of National Parks

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Abstract

Rural population ageing and decline is a serious problem throughout Europe resulting in a deterioration of the socioeconomic situation in rural areas. This leads to land abandonment, and consequently the loss of valuable cultural landscapes. Protected areas are no exception and inhabitants also face restrictions arising from the protection status. The aim of this study is to identify the existence, extent and nature of the socioeconomic impacts derived from the protection status on the local population. Population and socioeconomic indicators were compared with the results of in-depth interviews with local stakeholders within 2 Estonian national parks and contextualised with recent social change. It was concluded that protected areas have a considerable socioeconomic impact and in order to preserve cultural landscapes, achieve conservation objectives and contribute to balanced regional development, measures must be taken.

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