Assessment of individual PAs’ contribution to environmental conventions

Volker Mauerhofer
Published: 02 December 2015
Last edited: 24 May 2019
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Through a 10-step system, the Convention-Check method applies a bottom-up approach to assess the contribution of large-scale protected areas to the implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), allowing to overcome deadlocks in MEA implementation, contributing to improved global PA governance. The Convention Check was carried out in Thaya Valley National Park, Austria, demonstrating that the park contributes significantly to implementation of 5 MEAs.


West and South Europe
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Temperate deciduous forest
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Legal & policy frameworks
Protected area management planning
Science and research
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of technical capacity
Poor governance and participation


Merkersdorf, 2115 Ernstbrunn, Austria | Nationalpark Thayatal GmbH
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MEA implementation deadlock and lack of MEA integration into national law 1. MEAs are nationally often hardly or not implemented although signed and/or ratified. The methodology shows how PA-managers can contribute to improved implementation. 2. National legislative bodies often do not much more than copy and paste the MEA into legislation, if at all. The paper shows an approach without need to change the law to improve implementation.


park managers, protected area authorities (restricted by politicians) and courts involved in implementation cases.

How do the building blocks interact?

The building blocks identified in this document combine to create an innovative ten-step process ‘Convention-Check’, a bottom-up approach which identifies and analyses the contribution of large-scale protected areas to the implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAS), which are traditionally introduced from the top down. The example of the Thaya Valley National Park used in this study already identifies the significant impact of the Convention Check towards improved protected area governance, and demonstrate that this method is transferrable and replicable.


Significant impacts have been shown using the Convention-Check method by the Thaya Valley National Park, demonstrating that a protected area can improve implementation of MEAs.One of these impacts is that more than 25 % of the recommendations developed were implemented after two years.


This method proved reliable to voluntary assessments of the current contribution of a large scale protected area to the implementation of international conventions and is replicable for  identifying gaps in the compliance of local acts with international obligations.


The voluntary approach applied by the Convention-Check enables the identification of practical implementation measures, which may not otherwise be possible during a more formal compliance assessment.


It was inspiring to see how the Convention Check brought bats into the focus of the National Park management. After the implementation of the study on the occurrence of bats, the NP recognized the high value of the park for bats which are now a major research and visitor education topic in the park.

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Volker Mauerhofer

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University of Vienna