As part of the two-year EU project “Responsible for Nature” conducted by Sunce with project partners BIOM Association, Marjan Society and the Faculty of Economics Split, a workshop was organized with Public Institution Marjan staff to assess the effectiveness of management in this area. So far in Croatia, this method of management assessment has been conducted by public institutions of nature parks and national parks under the expert guidance of HAOP representatives, and the Public Institution Marjan is the first local public institution to conduct this analysis. In addition, the analysis was conducted with the participation of external stakeholders, in this case representatives of Sunce and BIOM, which is a tendency for future implementation of the analysis in all public institutions. What may diminish the results of the analysis is the fact that it was conducted by only two employees of the Public Institution, the director and the educator. Namely, it is recommended that all employees who have management positions within the institution, and possibly other employees, participate in the evaluation of management effectiveness, because teamwork and discussion of various aspects of management during the evaluation process is considered very useful for the manager. Nevertheless, we believe that the results will be used to further improve management, especially now that we are in a situation of accelerated forest drying caused by Mediterranean bark, climate change and insufficient implementation of biological forest regeneration.
The evaluation of the effectiveness of protected area management in Croatia is carried out through a standardized METT questionnaire (Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool) which is filled out by employees during an internal workshop under the expert guidance of HAOP representatives. The results of the questionnaire (identified needs, constraints and priority activities) are combined into a standardized report which is then used internally by the public institution to monitor the progress of the protected area over time.
We bring the main findings of the analysis, while the entire document is internal in nature and should serve PI Marjan and HAOP as an expert body to improve the management of PI Marjan, to avoid threats in the future and respond more effectively in crisis situations like today in Marjan.
The main values for which this area has been declared protected are the Aleppo pine forests and cultural heritage. Among the threats of high importance are: construction of houses and settlement in terms of illegal but also legal construction, fire, “marginal effects” of urbanization, invasive plants and parasites.
Employees of PI Marjan believe that the current number of full-time employees and the annual budget of the institution are sufficient for the implementation of priority management activities (eg rehabilitation of diseased trees, rehabilitation of utility equipment, increased supervision). They consider especially developed educational programs that they carry out with educational institutions in the city of Split. The effective application of mechanisms to control inappropriate activities is limited due to non-compliance with certain legal acts, limited powers of nature conservationists and private property.
Recommendations for improving the management of the Park Forest Marjan included addressing urbanization, solid waste and sewage pressure, converting monoculture forests into mixed ones, controlling invasive species and pests (bellows, bark beetles), better involving the local community in protected area management, and improving visitor infrastructure, given the level of attendance and finding funding for heritage restoration.
The results of such analyzes can be successfully used by protected area managers to communicate with stakeholders, the administration and in the phase of preparation or revision of protected area management plans. This management effectiveness assessment is a pioneering step in establishing monitoring of protected area management effectiveness at the local level.