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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Contribution of social science to large scale biodiversity conservation: A review of research about the Natura 2000 network

Blicharska, Malgorzata; Orlikowska, Ewa; Roberge, Jean-Michel; Grodzinska-Jurczak, Malgorzata; Blicharska, Malgorzata


Successful conservation needs to be informed by social science because it is closely linked to socio-economic processesand human behaviour. Limited knowledge about ecosystems' interactions with these processes currentlyundermines conservation efforts. This review provides a comprehensive synthesis of social science concerningthe world's largest multinationally-coordinated conservation infrastructure: the European Ecological Network- ‘Natura 2000'. Based on a review of 149 publications, we analyse and discuss the main findings and outlinekey social-science research gapswith regard to the Natura 2000 network. The review shows that human dimensionof the Natura 2000 network is complex and variesamong EUMember States. In general, lowlevel and qualityof public participation in implementation of the Natura 2000 network and its management, negative public perceptionsof the network, lack of flexibility of responsible authorities and insufficient consideration of the localcontext pose the greatest challenges to the network's functioning. Important but hitherto little studied researchtopics include: evaluation of participation; effects of education on potential to raise public awareness; effects ofpotential financing mechanisms for compensating private land-owners; economic studies on cost-effectiveness;and benefits from conservation and ecosystem services. These knowledge gaps will need to be filled for theNatura 2000 network to reach its goals.


Biodiversity conservation; Human dimension; Natura 2000; Research gaps; Review; Social science

Published in

Biological Conservation
2016, volume: 199, pages: 110-122

Authors' information

Blicharska, Malgorzata
Uppsala University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management
Grodzinska-Jurczak, Malgorzata
Jagiellonian University
Blicharska, Malgorzata
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Swedish Biodiversity Centre

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land
SDG13 Climate action
SDG4 Quality education

UKÄ Subject classification

Sociology (excluding Social work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Publication Identifiers


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