What can conservation strategies learn from the ecosystem services approach? Insights from ecosystem assessments in two Spanish protected areas

The study was carried out in two protected areas in southern Spain: Doñana National Park and Sierra Nevada National Park. This study assesses the extent to which ecosystem services have been implemented in conservation strategies in protected areas. Data collection was carried out through workshops involving managers and researchers, face-to-face surveys with local users and tourists, and a review of management plans. Overall, the data show that agricultural products, freshwater and nature tourism stand out as important ecosystem services according to all stakeholders. However, managers and researchers place a higher value on regulating services and consider the production of scientific knowledge as one of the most important services in protected areas. In addition, managers and researchers perceived that the relationships between humans and ecosystem services are already widely included in management plans, often not explicitly. Some of the ecosystem services considered vulnerable or important by stakeholders are not given the same attention in management plans. These contained measures to manage provisioning and cultural services, while measures to manage regulating services were considered largely absent. Additional conservation efforts are therefore required to protect vulnerable but essential ecosystem services in both protected areas. Promoting an ecosystem services approach can improve the consideration of societal interests in protected area management.

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