Decision-making toolbox for inclusive conservation in the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park

Fernando Román
Published: 03 June 2021
Last edited: 03 June 2021
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The Sierra de Guadarrama National Park covers 33,960 ha through the Central Mountain System of the Iberian Peninsula in the Madrid and the Castilla y León regions. The National Park includes glacial cirques, unique granite rock formations, alpine lakes, grasslands, and pine forests that contain rich biodiversity. The National Park has almost 2.5 million visitors per year and is used for sports and recreation activities. It also encompasses a variety of local stakeholders engaged in diverse activities such as extensive livestock, forestry, biodiversity conservation, education and research. This solution introduces a set of tools to help protected areas managers and practitioners enhance social engagement in conservation decision-making by identifying, navigating and balancing visions, tensions, and power relations between stakeholders. The toolbox has been created in the context of the ENVISION project to support the creation of socially inclusive policies and management actions in protected areas.


West and South Europe
Scale of implementation
Area-wide development
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Pool, lake, pond
Rangeland / Pasture
River, stream
Temperate deciduous forest
Temperate evergreen forest
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Tundra or montane grassland
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Cities and infrastructure
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Forest Management
Geodiversity and Geoconservation
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Health and human wellbeing
Invasive alien species
Local actors
Not listed
Outreach & communications
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Science and research
Species management
Traditional knowledge
Water provision and management
World Heritage
Other theme
Drivers of change and visions
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Territorial and spatial development
Extreme heat
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Shift of seasons
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Invasive species
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor governance and participation
Social conflict and civil unrest
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge


Sierra de Guadarrama National Park, Madrid and Segovia, Spain
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The National Park’s authorities, in their endeavor to balancing conservation goals with human well-being, need to deal with a variety of perspectives, knowledge, and values from a wide range of actors. There are state administrations with intersecting governing competences in the area and stakeholders engage in diverse and often competing activities such as outdoor sports, extensive livestock farming, forestry, conservation, education and research. In turn, many visitors are attracted by the National Park proximity (less than 100km) to Madrid's large metropolitan area (over 6.5 M inhabitants) and the mid-sized city of Segovia (around 50,000 inhabitants). These multiple and competing uses create social tensions around how the park should be governed. This scenario raises the challenge of how different visions, values, knowledge and power relations between stakeholders can be considered for conservation governance and balanced for achieving positive conservation and well-being outcomes.


Protected areas’ managers and practitioners can directly benefit from the toolbox to practice socially inclusive conservation. Stakeholders and local communities may also benefit since these tools can facilitate their participation in decision-making.

How do the building blocks interact?

The building blocks include a diversity of decision-making tools that can be combined for addressing different dimensions related to inclusive conservation. This set of tools aims to: 1) gather local knowledge and values (Building block 1), 2) elucidate visions and future scenarios for park management (Building block 2), 3) address power dynamics and promoting engagement in collective action (Building block 3), and 4) strengthen the science-policy interface for socially inclusive governance (Building block 4). These tools can be used in an individual and complementary basis to support the creation of socially inclusive policies and management actions in protected areas worldwide. This set of tools can also be complemented and combined with other approaches and techniques that have been applied in other case study areas of the ENVISION project ( More information about these tools can be found in the PANORAMA solutions for Utrechtse & Krommerijn (The Netherlands), Västra Harg (Sweden), and Denali National Park and Preserve (United States).


Part of the research findings related to participation has served as practical guidance to understand participatory mechanisms and support some strategies/actions included in the participation and volunteering subprogram of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park developed by the protected area managers and decision-makers. Specifically, the set of decision-making tools detailed in the building blocks (1 - 4) were considered of interest by them based on their potential applicability within the protected area. As the subprogram has just been initiated, we do not yet have an understanding whether all of these tools will be utilized.


In addition, over 100 people have been actively engaged in our research activities. Through such activities, they have reflected and learned about different stakeholders' visions, preferences, tensions, responsibilities and power relations to move towards better social engagement in conservation decision-making.


Judit Maroto

Judit Maroto studied Forest Engineering and a Master of Science in ecosystem restoration. She has dedicated herself to environmental conservation throughout both research and management activities. She currently works at the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park management unit in the region of Castilla and León (Spain). As a staff member of the National Park, she is responsible for the day-to-day management of this protected area. Among her functions, she is in charge of the participation and volunteering subprogram of the National Park. From the beginning of the ENVISION project, she has been involved in our research activities as a member of our local knowledge alliance, has taken part in regular meetings with us, and has participated in diverse dissemination activities related to the ENVISION project (e.g. video and webinars). In addition, she has participated in: 1) semi-structured interview aimed to get a better understanding of formal and informal participatory mechanisms implemented in the National Park; 2) participatory scenario planning exercise with local stakeholders to deliberate collectively about plausible and desired futures/visions for the National Park; and, 3) workshop with decision-makers and experts on protected areas management to analyze the main challenges and opportunities of the current participatory setting within the protected area, define management strategies for facilitating social engagement in management, and assess research tools that might be useful to support more socially inclusive conservation approaches. Feedback from her and other experts on protected areas management has facilitated that our research might better respond to some of the management needs and challenges of the National Park. This facilitates research applicability into the management cycle to craft participatory mechanisms and management actions in an inclusive manner. In May 2021, she confirmed the usability of our findings to reinforce the development of the participation and volunteering subprogram of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park, so these are being considered to support such subprogram. We hope that our recent science-policy collaboration can continue in the future so that research can support the creation of socially inclusive models of governance in the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park and other protected areas. 

Contributed by

mdlopezrod_40135's picture

María D. López Rodríguez Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) - Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

Other contributors

Isabel Ruiz Mallén
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Elisa Oteros Rozas
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Hug March
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Veronica Lo
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Miguel Ángel Cebrián Piqueras
University of Göttingen
Tobias Plieninger
University of Göttingen
Christopher Raymond
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Judit Maroto
Management Unit of Sierra de Guadarrama National Park