Save Project. Natural Parks: involvement &effects for rural residents.Portugal

imaxen cabeceira The Public Service Decentralisation Programme

Logos Save Project.

SAVE – Valorization of Agri-Ecossistem's Environmental Services in Protected Mountain Areas.The purpose of this research is the production and dissemination of knowledge about the Ecosystem Services (ES) based on the agri-forest-pastoral systems in the Serra da Estrela protected area. On the basis of such information, the Project also aimed at delivering insights about the design, application and governance of policies concerning ES valorisation. Part of the Project was focused on a payment system called ITI (Integrated Territorial Interventions) – a set of financial support measures to landowners and agri-forest producers in protected areas meant to promote sustainable farming practices, biodiversity and nature conservation. The Project assessed ITI program design, its effectiveness and results.

The focus was on the Serra da Estrela Natural Park – municipalities of Seia, Celorico da Beira, Guarda, Manteigas, Covilhã and Gouveia. On a later phase, a comparison with Peneda-Gerês National Park was started – districts of Braga, Viana do Castelo and Vila Real.

Imaxen fauna na Serra de Estrela

Being a PES (Payment for Ecosystem Services), the ITI scheme is also an instrument for local development, providing income for peripheral communities and economic retribution for conservation practices. Results have shown that effectiveness, as well as locals' involvement, were significantly better in Peneda-Gerês. Thus, though iniciallyfocusing on the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, the study of the ITI implementation scheme can serve as a model to assess the program's effectiveness in other protected areas where such measures configure a portfolio of policies meant to preserve ecological values and, at the same time, turn local stakeholders as an active part of environmental policy.

Key questions for debate
  • Are the nature protection policies a positive factor in order to offer living opportunities for long term local residents, or, on the contrary, another "expulsion factor"?
  • Is the actual involvement of locals the key success factor?
  • To what extent is direct financial support is the right, sustainable and successful strategy?