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Conservation Policies as Local Development Policies: The Case of Italian National Park

Year of publication2002
Author(s)A. G. Calafati
Co-authorsF. Mazzoni
JournalScienze Regionali Journal
Magazine No.3 (2002)
Publication typeJournal article
The system of protected areas in Italy shows a picture with both positive and negative aspects. The most interesting element of value is given by the relevant increase of protected areas since the law 394/91 was promulgated. On the other hand, it is necessary to highlight relevant problems. Almost all, park institutions have conflict with local communities on the rules of territorial management. It often happens that in order to avoid conflicts, new parks exclude territories where there are specific economic interests, even though they include particular natural values. Parks are usually not able to communicate the importance of nature conservation, so they represent generic interests and not specific local interests: this is a great limit for the policies. From a first analysis of Italian national and regional policies it is possible to identify three common specific objectives of protected areas: nature conservation (it involves restrictions to the use of territory and actions for restoration and management of habitats); environmental education (it involves activities with local communities and schools on natural resources environment and sustainable development); local sustainable development (it involves in particular the promotion of sustainable tourism and agriculture). Without full awareness of the practical implications and methodological difficulties, conservation policies have been given significant priority in Italy in the past decade. Considering the extraordinary cultural and ecological value of Italian landscapes, this role assigned to conservation policies is not unwarranted. Yet if conservation policies are to be effective, they must be given a conceptual basis appropriate to the nature of the disequilibria with which they are intended to cope. The paper proposes a conceptual framework for conservation policies in protected territories where both cultural capital and natural capital are subject to conservation - as is the case of most national (and regional) natural parks in Italy. It argues that in protected territories where human landscapes are important part of local capital, conservation policies ought to be conceptualised as development policies. Constraining property rights on local resources - which is the conventional conception of conservation policies - should be set in the context of a more broadly surrounding approach in which the policy domain of conservation policies is the development trajectories of the local systems concerned.