, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 665-676

Perceptions, Preferences, and Reactions of Local Inhabitants in Vikos-Aoos National Park, Greece

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Abstract

Local inhabitants' perceptions, preferences, and reactions were investigated in Vikos-Aoos National Park, 25 years after its designation. Knowledge of aims of the park and source of information about them, necessity for infrastructure, reactions to certain policies, and effectiveness of administration and management scheme were studied by means of a questionnaire survey. Personal interviews were performed by systematic sampling, which resulted in 203 cases for analysis. Most respondents said that they had knowledge of the aims of the national park, and this was positively associated with education; protection of flora and fauna was identified by most as the main aim, and the management authority (the Forest Service) ranked first in order as source of information. Tourism development of the area was seen as a positive change, and recreation facilities and improvement in accessibility were considered of high priority for development. The investigation into peoples' reactions to several possible alternative management policies revealed willingness to accept certain restrictions on their agricultural use of the land. A policy of nonintensive agriculture with compensation for loss of income, if the ecosystems of the park were in danger, seems the most acceptable. Long-term leasing of farms by the Forest Service was another policy with a high degree of acceptance, especially for certain occupational groups; those working in the secondary and tertiary sectors of economy would accept such a policy more easily than those working in the primary sector. Finally, a very large majority of the respondents expressed a preference for a new administration and management scheme with the participation of local communities in the decision-making process.