Protected areas, local knowledge and regional development: are we able to move from theory to practice? A case study in Trás-os-Montes, Northeastern Portugal Conference Paper uri icon


  • The Northeastern Portugal is a mountainous marginal region facing severe economic and socio-cultural constrains. Several years ago two natural parks were created (Montesinho Natural Park and Douro International Natural Park) taking advantage of a great diversity of natural and semi-natural habitats as well as humanized landscapes which were/are repositories of natural life and cultural heritage. Conservation policies were designed by outsiders who were culturally detached and then protected areas boundaries, as well as management plans, were mostly based on biological and environmental criteria. Participatory approaches concerning local residents and institutions were neglected or were not implemented. Nowadays, most of us agree that such territories may be used to improve sustainable regional development mainly integrating different activities such as agriculture, forestry, cultural heritage, tourism and education with the conservation and sustainability issues. However these dynamic approaches depend on national and regional development policies and on local communities' involvement and participation. A case study conducted in Trás-os-Montes (Bragança and Miranda do Douro municipalities) describes the actual regional context of the parks, compares different concepts, strategies and instruments being used and discusses the gap between theory and practice.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015