Environmental Management

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 11-27

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Expansion of Nature Conservation Areas: Problems with Natura 2000 Implementation in Poland?

  • Malgorzata Grodzinska-JurczakAffiliated withInstitute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University Email author 
  • , Joanna CentAffiliated withInstitute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian UniversityInstitute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University


In spite of widespread support from most member countries’ societies for European Union policy, including support for the sustainable development idea, in many EU countries the levels of acceptance of new environmental protection programmes have been and, in particular in new member states, still are considerably low. The experience of the countries which were the first to implement union directives show that they cannot be effectively applied without widespread public participation. The goal of this study was, using the example of Poland, to assess public acceptance of the expansion of nature conservation in the context of sustainable development principles and to discover whether existing nature governance should be modified when establishing new protected areas. The increase in protected areas in Poland has become a hotbed of numerous conflicts. In spite of the generally favourable attitudes to nature which Polish people generally have, Natura 2000 is perceived as an unnecessary additional conservation tool. Both local authorities and communities residing in the Natura areas think that the programme is a hindrance, rather than a help in the economic development of municipalities or regions, as was initially supposed. This lack of acceptance results from many factors, mainly social, historic and economic. The implications of these findings for current approach to the nature governance in Poland are discussed.


Conflict management Natura 2000 Nature conservation Public participation Sustainable development