The project will provide baseline assessments of selected protected areas, including ecological, social, and economic indicators. University partners in Slovakia (Banska Bystrica and Zilina) and Switzerland (Bern) are jointly carrying out the assessments. However, the project goes far beyond research: Thanks to a joint Slovak–Swiss financing mechanism, Slovak partners will implement small projects – or “seed money” activities – proposed by local stakeholders. These small projects will hopefully result in tangible, lasting benefits for local stakeholders – particularly farmers – in and around protected areas.
The result may be new and better forms of cooperation between the SNC, local protected-area authorities, and local populations, enabling a more grounded approach to conservation and greater acceptance of nature-conservation goals among residents. Finally, Slovak mountain farmers stand to benefit from more realistic outreach activities and a greater stake in “their“ protected area. Or, as one senior SNC staff member put it: “After decades of top-down definition of protected areas, and [subsequent privatisation] of agricultural lands and pastures after 1990, we really need a transition to participation to [better balance] nature conservation [goals] and local benefits.“
The project was jointly implemented by Slovak state authorities and CDE.