Ecosystem services and justice of protected areas: the case of Circeo National Park, Italy

Stefania Benetti*, Johannes Langemeyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Protected areas are key instruments for conserving biodiversity and landscapes. Yet, conservation initiatives are still often struggling to accommodate people’s needs, provoking conflicts, and lacking support from local communities. Our study combines environmental justice and ecosystem services approaches to provide a critical understanding of trade-offs between people’s interests and conservation goals in the case study of Circeo National Park (Italy). Applying a qualitative content analysis of different materials and using a survey of local residents, we focus on three main objectives: analysing the implementation of the ecosystem services framework in policy documents and exploring how different people value benefits from nature; investigating the decision-making process in terms of participation, information and communication strategies; and identifying how conservation policies generated different allocations of benefits, burdens and inequalities among social groups. The integrated approach applied in our study highlights ways to systematically uncover perceived injustices and identifies potential conflict lines. In the long run, this approach might help to increase the public acceptance of protected areas by fostering sustainability also in its often-overlooked social dimension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-431
Number of pages21
JournalEcosystems and People
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Aichi Target 11
  • Environmental conservation
  • Matthias Schröter
  • natural resources management
  • shifting ecologic values
  • social equity
  • social-ecological systems
  • stakeholder perceptions


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