Sustainable protected areas: synergies between biodiversity conservation and socioeconomic development.
Reconciling conservation and socioeconomic development goals is key to sustainability but remains a source of fierce debate. Protected areas (PAs) are believed to play an essential role in achieving these seemingly conflicting goals. Yet, there is limited evidence as to whether PAs are actually achieving the two goals simultaneously. Here, we investigate when and to what extent synergies or trade-offs between biodiversity conservation and local socioeconomic development occur. To explore these relationships, we collected data across a wide range of socioeconomic settings through face-to-face survey with PA managers from 114 African and European PAs using structured questionnaire. We found synergies between biodiversity conservation and socioeconomic development for 62% of the PAs, albeit with significant differences between African (55%) and European PAs (75%). Moreover, the sustainability of PAs in conserving biodiversity was strongly correlated with the empowerment of the PA management and the involvement of local communities in PA planning and decision-making processes. Our results demonstrate that for PAs to promote synergies between biodiversity conservation and local socioeconomic development, and to enhance their long-term sustainability, they should invest in the empowerment of their respective management and involvement of local communities in their planning and management activities.