Sustainable Development Plans are documents aimed at increasing the ecomonic development in Natural Parks in concordance with nature conservation.
Since the first declarations of protected areas, the local population has been suspicious, since they suppose a regulation of the human activities to guarantee nature conservation that does not exist in other territories. In addition, the investments made in the protected areas were more oriented to benefit the tourists than the local population, with the application of conservation policies without any consideration towards them.

The main necessity was to change the perception that the local population had, so they could identify and have a positive image of protected areas, seeing them as an opportunity for social welfare and source of benefits and not as a hindrance to their economic development. It was needed to establish an economic development plan different from the more traditional ones (agriculture, etc.) and that was sustainable.

The solution was to plan the investments and lines of action that all the Administrations involved carried out in a coordinated way, orienting themselves towards a sustainable economic growth with the environment, and an improvement of the life quality of the local inhabitants. In the identification of these actions, the consultation and involvement of the most relevant territorial agents in these areas was paramount.
To strengthen the participatory character in the elaboration of the Sustainable Development Plans, increasing the number of meetings and the attendees with local agents, and the publicity to the Plans once elaborated.

Resources needed

In the implementation of this project, the many institutions and departments of the Andalusian Administration have been involved and Local entrepreneurs in general, with special attention to Tourism and Primary sector. These institutions also act as stakeholders in Interreg IMPACT project.

Evidence of success

Currently, many of the protected areas of Andalusia are engines of local economies, being perceived by the population and entrepreneurs as an opportunity for growth. Their economies have shifted from relying mainly on an unproductive agriculture and livestock to having a fundamental role in other activities linked to natural areas in a sustainable manner.

Difficulties encountered

To contact the citizens and private companies in order to know their concerns and opinions.
During the years of economic crisis, to make effective plans with a low budget.
To avoid large investments in infrastructure or other means that may jeopardise the sustainable development of the territory.

Potential for learning or transfer

This good practice could be interesting for natural regions and protected areas with a low socio-economic development level.
The approach in the management by involving the local population through Sustainable Development Plans (SDP) can be transferred, with the message that it is possible to establish specific socio-economic policies in protected areas and change the perception that the population has about them.
It is also possible to gain the complicity of the population and therefore to improve the sustainability and conservation of the territory and its natural values.

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Main institution
Regional Government of Andalucia
Andalucía, Spain (España)
Start Date
July 1989
End Date


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Good Practices being followed by

Teresa Pastor

EUROPARC Federation

Vanya Ratarova

Nature Park "Vitosha" Directorate