The WWF's strategy for the
capacity building in the Italian parks

A national park, a natural protected area may represent a new approach with the natural heritage, with the landscape and the area: no looting or devastation of the environment any longer, but a rational use of the resources through effective planning tools.
They represent a new sustainable and long-lasting development which offer growth opportunities to the local populations and job opportunities for young people. Compatible agriculture, tourism, handicraft, the restoration of old centers, quality products, etc. are the new prospects opened by a national park. However, the enforcement of the law about protected areas, approved in 1991 after 30 years of legal struggles, meets a lot of difficulties, for it is hindered by numerous problems. Only the implementation of the project included in this law, considered as an important civil and democratic goal, will put Italy in the same line with the most advanced nations.

At the end of the Eighties, the WWF-Italy created a strategy including a series of pilot-initiatives in the protected areas with the active participation of local people, groups and organizations, through some capacity building activities.
The purpose of this process is to help the abilities of people, institutions and organizations to make people know and understand first the natural and cultural resources of a protected area and, later, help in their management with some procedures suitable for the local needs and contexts and in a sustainable way for the environment.



  • Promote a sustainable development for rural areas matching the guide-lines of the Fifth Environment Program of the European Union and the guide-lines established by the Agenda 21;
  • Show to the public opinion how it is possible to conciliate environment conservation and socio-economical development;
  • Enlarge the network of Italian protected areas;
  • Create some transferable indicative development models;
  • Create a network which allows the spreading of the acquired knowledge;
  • Raise the incomes of local communities with activities that respect the environment;
  • Show how it is possible to use public funding sources in a thrifty and harmless way for the environment.

Aspromonte N.P.:
hand making texile process


The processes of "bottom-up development" were given a special attention during the formulation of the projects proposed by the WWF in the last few years. This kind of processes contributed to question the old dominant approach towards the "up-bottom approach" which tried to graft big-size industries with the contribution of the big industrial sector and of the Government with no special focus on the socio-economical background of the area. Huge resources have often been used for development interventions in a given area; these resources had no basis nor influence on the local community, therefore, the structures and works financed remained unused and unmanaged.

The bottom-up development model has completely different implications and meaning and is based upon the mobilization of social energies around a project-idea. Therefore, an economical activity is not considered independent from the society any longer: the social, cultural and political environment where the economical activity is developed is able to influence its destiny in a decisive way.
Moreover, a quite common phenomenon in the areas affected by economical recession, especially if it is a long term recession (a common situation for many Italian rural areas, included the park areas), is the lack of collaboration. The economical crisis is often associated with a more general distrust in the possibilities of any collective action aimed at improving the situation. Opportunistic behaviors are often created by this situation; because of that, the implementation of any project, including the consensus and collaboration of several people, is particularly difficult. Moreover, the implementation of projects that need short-term investments and, possibly, give medium and long term results is affected by the lack of trust. Therefore, the construction of large public works is considered more favorably, for they can produce immediate incomes for an identifiable group of people, in comparison with projects aimed at creating a general growth within a longer period of time. Opportunism and individualism are reflected and increased by the incapability to elaborate systematical projects; not only the actions of the single agents tend to be opportunistic, but also the activities of the programming authorities tend to distribute the resources and the possible incentives to the various interest groups, instead of looking for the collaboration through the identification of common lines.


Pollino N.P.:
"uomo lungo" nearby Orsomarso town


Cilento-Vallo di Diano N.P.:
Monti Alburni, cows to pasture

The WWF's strategy (1 of 2) The WWF's strategy