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Final evaluation of the project "Strenghtening the Institutional and Financial Sustainability of the Croatia's National Protected Areas System" (PARCS)
Commissioning Unit: Croatia
Evaluation Plan: 2014-2017
Evaluation Type: Project
Completion Date: 12/2017
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: Croatia
Documents Related to overall Management Response:
 
1. Recommendation:

It is recommended to the government that the Public Institutions managing national parks and nature parks should be more engaged in the regional and local development processes.

“These parks and their respective management structures (public institutions) are key socio-economic actors in the region where they are located. The attractiveness of these parks is such that numerous visitors (Croatians and tourists) are visiting them. As a result, regional and local economies are benefiting from these visitors. The parks are part of the socio-economic fabric of their locations. As such, they should be more actively involved in the regional and local development planning processes and become an integral part of the socio-economic development of their areas. Yet, currently these parks are mostly managed as single/autonomous entities with direct links to the national level. Considering the human capacities and availability of these public institutions - sometimes in very remote rural areas – they are key driving forces for the development of these areas and should play a larger role in the local and regional socio-economic development. In the context of reforming the institutional framework of these PIs, it is recommended to review their local engagement as key socio-economic actors, to be more involved in the local socio-economic development.”

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2017/12/12]

Recommendation is well received. The PARCS project supported some activities that will enhance the achievement of this recommendation in the future. Although government strives to put in place mechanisms for better stakeholder engagement and cooperation on a local and regional level, during the project implementation was noticed a need for even more progressive action and support towards the socio-economic development of rural areas which surrounding parks, especially in the area of multi-sectoral cooperation.

Key action(s)

Time frame

Responsible unit(s)

Tracking

Comments

Status

  1. PARCS project started cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and the Croatian Tourism Board, to include parks into destination management campaign which enable better presentation and engagement of parks, as important stakeholders in the destination offer, and thus improve cooperation with the local communities.

2018

Ministry of Environment and Energy (MEE)

Croatian Agency for Environment and Nature (CAEN)

 

 

  1. At the end of the mandate, PARCS project researched good practice example from Slovenia, where parks are certifying local products, under the brand of the park. Gathered materials included: criteria for certification, steps towards certification, contracts and similar. All materials have been translated to Croatian language and shared with the MEE, CAEN and parks to help them to establish similar principles and to enhance cooperation and relationships with the local people with aim to boost local economy.

2018

MEE

CAEN

 

 

Key Actions:

2. Recommendation:

It is recommended to the government to widen the analysis of the financial sustainability of National and Nature Parks.

“The main logic under the PARCS project has been to analyze the financial sustainability of these protected areas from a narrow point of view focusing mostly on sales of tickets to visitors and also looking at each area as a separate autonomous business entity. It is a valid approach that allows the analysis of the financial efficiency (costs and revenues) of each public institution. However, this approach is also missing two important points, which should be taken into account when conducting analyses of the financial sustainability of these public institutions: (1) These protected areas are, foremost, areas to protect recognized natural, ecological or cultural values. Regardless if some are financially sustainable and some are not, governments need to invest in the protection of this heritage for current and future generations; and (2) Due to their recognized natural, ecological or cultural values, these protected areas attract visitors, which are contributing to the local socio-economic development where these areas are located. Currently, when analyzing the overall financial sustainability of the entire protected area network in Croatia, it is already self-sufficient that is the revenue from all PAs together is higher than all expenses. Additionally, each PA brings visitors to the local community, which restaurant, hotels, campgrounds, shops are all benefiting to a certain degree from these visitors such as the new hotel built near the Nature Park Kopacki rit with 50 rooms in Eastern Croatia to respond to the demand of visitors or the small tourism-based businesses build around the National Park Paklenica.

It is recommended that in addition to the analysis of the financial sustainability of each PA trough ticket sales, to widen the analysis from the perspective of a national network of protected areas and also to take into account the local socio-economic value of these PAs and their impact on the local socio-economic development. “

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/12]

Financial sustainability of the protected areas has been one of weak points in the management of the national protected area system and thus one of the reasons why the PARCS project has been implemented. At the beginning of the project, the Ministry didn’t have information on the revenues and expenditures of each park and the coordinated strategic approach for the efficient management and development from a national level was very weak. Therefore, activities that were implemented through the PARCS project were first necessary steps towards the other possible actions. Now, when standardized financial management information system is operation, proposed recommendation could be achieved as a part of further development of the protected areas system.

Key action(s)

Time frame

Responsible unit(s)

Tracking

Comments

Status

  1. The PARCS project established the Shared Service Centre that functions as a cross-subsidization mechanism. Collecting 3% of the revenue from entrance fees from each individual park, this funds can be redistributed from the parks that have high financial revenues to the parks that don’t have enough financial resources for their daily management and protection services.

2018

MEE

Shared Service Centre (SSC)

 

 

  1. The Ministry of Environment and Energy will create criteria for distribution of government funds. Using these criteria’s, parks should receive funds according to their real needs and their management plans.

2018

MEE

 

 

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation:

It is recommended for UNDP to develop and maintain a database of experts and best practices in biodiversity conservation/protected area management to facilitate worldwide exchange of knowledge and access to expertise and experience.

“Croatia is considered as one of the richest country in Europe in terms of biodiversity, with exceptionally high species richness and levels of endemism. The entire network comprises 408 protected areas and covers 8.5% of the total area of Croatia, including 12.2% of the terrestrial and inland water ecosystems of Croatia and 1.9% of the country’s marine territorial waters. Over the years, the country acquired an extensive experience in developing and managing this network of protected areas. The world could benefit much more from this experience and knowledge if it was more accessible. The country has many biodiversity experts including experts in the sustainable use of these natural resources. It is recommended to UNDP to develop a database of experts and best practices in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experiences. A tool like the EU-TAIEX (https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/tenders/taiex_en) could be very useful for biodiversity projects worldwide, particularly those with a focus on tourism to raise money. Croatia has lots of potential in providing expertise on the development of protected area networks.”

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/12]

PARCS project has had opportunity of cooperation with some of the excellent experts in various areas of expertise, e.g. biodiversity conservation, protected area management, strategic guidelines and institutional mechanisms, innovative financial mechanisms etc. Such level of expertise and excellence could be helpful for the other protected areas in Croatia (county or local level) but we believe as well in the region or even worldwide.

Key action(s)

Time frame

Responsible unit(s)

Tracking

Comments

Status

  1. PARCS project team will create database of experts that worked on the project and handed over to the Ministry of Environment and Energy the Croatian Agency for Environment and Nature.

2017

UNDP, PARCS project team

 

 

  1. Croatian Agency for Environment and nature will have handed over list of experts to other agencies in the region, if they need similar services.

2018

CAEN

 

 

  1. Shared Service Centre will establish partnership with organization in the region that function as support centers for protected areas and offer them exchange of experiences.

2018

SSC

 

 

Key Actions:

4. Recommendation:

It is recommended to pursue the analysis of carrying capacity of each protected area.

“The main challenge for the sustainable development of tourism in protected areas is to balance the flow and behavior of visitors with the protection goals set up for the area. This is based on the need to combine the protection of nature and cultural resources with the fulfillment of visitor expectations to ensure visitor satisfaction. This balancing act is strongly connected to the carrying capacity of a protected area. How many tourists can visit a place without threatening the nature resources? There is no simple answer to this question but the solution is closely linked to the nature system concerned, the related social system and the mediating management system that has to ensure the sustainable functionality of the protected area. Carrying capacity for tourism in protected areas is a matter of visitor flow, not a question of establishing maximal carrying capacities for different types of wildlife in the protected area. In the meantime, carrying capacities do not have scientifically determined sizes. It is rather the result of political decision processes among stakeholders balancing the use and the protection of nature and cultural resources preferably based on scientific and/or experiences. Initial work has been conducted in the PA network in Croatia with the support of the PARCS project such as training held in National Park Plitvice Lakes on the management of visitors using the method LAC (Limits of Acceptable Change). It is recommended to pursue this work, particularly in highly use PAs to keep balancing the use and the protection of these resources.”

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/12]

During the implementation of the PARCS project, education on the subject of methodology for visitor management was organized for representatives from all the national parks and nature parks. Prof. Steve McCool from the Montana University (USA) held one-week education about the LAC methodology (Limits of Acceptable Change).

Key action(s)

Time frame

Responsible unit(s)

Tracking

Comments

Status

  1. National Park Plitvice Lakes will be the first park that will create visitor management plan, suing LAC methodology. Their plan will be presented to other protected areas, as an example of good practice and learning tool.

2018 - 2021

PI NP Plitvice Lakes

CAEN

 

 

 

  1. Ministry of Environment and Energy, and the Croatian Agency for Environment and Nature have sent inputs to all parks that they need to develop visitor management plans during implementation of EU projects in the coming period.

2017

MEE

CAEN

 

 

Key Actions:

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