Management zonation and its implementation at a UNESCO World Heritage Site – a case study for the Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Keywords:management plan, Plitvice Lakes National Park, protected area, ROS classes, visitor pressure, zonation
Plitvice Lakes National Park (PLNP) is the oldest protected area in Croatia (since 1949) and was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in1979. It is an area of outstanding universal value consisting of a freshwater ecosystem of 16 lakes divided by tufa barriers. Recently, this area has experienced pressure from visitors and significant infrastructural development. When the previous Management Plan expired in 2017, the PLNP initiated and adopted a new Management Plan. This involved the zonation of management in order to better conserve and use this protected area. Management zonation was based on spatial and other data on the distributions of the species and habitats (Natura 2000 and others); cultural values and geo-localities; visitor experiences; existing and planned infrastructure and settlements. Visitor classes and zones were determined using the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) methodology. The new management zonation resulted in an increase of 13.9% in the area of the Park included in the Strict Conservation Zone, while succession and habitat degradation resulted in a decrease in the area of the Park in the Active Management Zone, especially in terms of grassland. Six ROS classes were defined. The established ROS classes and the new management zonation were interconnected, each reflecting the need to manage the protected area in terms of conserving its specific biodiversity and geodiversity, while offering visitors various experience opportunities and meeting the needs of the local community.
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