INDEXATION Assessment and improvement of involvement of local communities in the management of protected areas

Parks Dinarides, together with WWF Adria have launched a range of initiatives so as to partnerships between protected areas and representatives of local communities, based on the principles of responsibility, transparency and active participation of local actors.

The following instruments have been developed,  for the members of the Parks Dinarides – Network of Protected Areas of Dinarides and other interested protected areas:

I)                 Determination of involvement index of local community in the management of protected areas and the creation of Capacity Development Plan via INDEXATION process

II)               Provision of support to protected areas for the improvement of index of involvement of local communities in the management of protected areas, via

                     II 1. Grant programme for protected areas and

                     II 2. Regional educational project “Network of Schools in Protected Area“.


INDEXATION has been developed as a single instrument for measuring and improving the involvement of local community in the management of protected areas. The Methodology[1] is based on the collection of information on how protected areas and local community evaluate the existing cooperation, and based on obtained results, recommendations are developed and new initiatives are launched.

Priority areas for the measurement of communication and cooperation between key actors are the following:

I.      Decision making and influence to decision making

II.     Management planning

III.    Communication in protected area

IV.    Education and capacity development

V.     Social development

VI.    Economic development

VII.   Equal rights and opportunities

Parks Dinarides, in cooperation with interested protected areas, organize one-day workshop so as to conduct the research through direct communication with the managers and local population on the spot. The research uses two structured questionnaires: the one intended for the representatives of protected areas, and another intended for the collection of information from the representatives of local community. Interaction index is determined on the basis of the responses of all relevant stakeholders,[2] and according to already defined criteria for the assessment of the level of community engagement. Besides this quantitative indicator, the indexation also researches the attitudes via interviews with managers and discussion with local community representatives. Based on such quantitative and qualitative data, an analysis is prepared together with the recommendations for the improvement of capacities of managers and local communities, as well as the processes which will lead to their better cooperation - Capacity Development Plan.

During the workshop, directors of protected areas, or persons authorized to represent the attitudes of the park, provide their opinion on a set of carefully chosen questions. On behalf of local community, the opinion is  provided by: a) representatives of municipalities/or villages located in the protected area; b) groups with particular interest in the protected area (representatives of foresters, farmers, hunting associations, fishermen association, mountaineering associations, etc.); c) actors who largely depend on the resources of the protected area for stable sources of income (e.g. persons/cooperatives/entrepreneurs engaged in agriculture, tourism, forestry, owners of huge agricultural land, etc.); d) representatives of vulnerable groups: youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities, minorities, the poor, and e) local non-governmental organizations and/or civil society organizations, if not covered by one of the previously mentioned groups

The first INDEXATION cycle - assessment of involvement of local communities was organized in 2017 – 2018 in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo*, Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia. The workshops were organized in 66 protected areas, in majority of members of the network of Parks Dinarides. There were 930 participants, out of which, there were 290 or 31.20% women.

Based on the obtained results, a team of experts created the ”Capacity Development Plan“ for further involvement of the community on the territory of Dinaric Arc, which was the basis for the establishment of Grant programme for protected areas and Regional education programme “Network of Schools in Protected Areas “.

The second INDEXATION cycle has started in spring 2019.

[1] Lovren Orlović,. V., Kus Veenvliet, J., Partington, R, Fenten, W. Manual of the Methodology for the involvement of local community in the management of protected areas, WWF Adria and Parks Dinarides, 2017