Promoting transboundary co-existence of large carnivores

Triglav National Park
Published: 16 November 2016
Last edited: 17 April 2020
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The project used a participatory decision-making process to develop a transboundary bear management plan for a nature park in Italy (Prealpi Giulie) and an adjacent national park in Slovenia (Triglav). The project led to a joint agreement for the allocation of resources (money and staff time) toward satisfying all stakeholders concerned about brown bears in the Transboundary Julian Alps Ecoregion. Some of the actions will be implemented through jointly funded park projects from 2017-2026.


West and South Europe
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Temperate deciduous forest
Temperate grassland, savanna, shrubland
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Land management
Outreach & communications
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Science and research
Loss of Biodiversity
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 15 – Life on land


Resia, Province of Udine, Italy | Prealpi Giulie Nature Park - Italy, Triglav National Park - Slovenia
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Managing ecological connectivity across international borders is challenged by differing laws, regulations, cultural differences, and lack of awareness and understanding of the importance of maintaining broad-extent ecological processes. There is a need for initiatives that engage local and regional stakeholders on both sides of the border through concrete transboundary management topics.


Protected area authorities; Stakeholder groups: agricultural organizations, local research institutions, local tourism organization, local municipalities.

How do the building blocks interact?

The decision process described here is a special application of the participatory structured decision-making (SDM) process being used and taught by the National Conservation Training Center (USA) and is also being taught in graduate-level university courses. Whereas previous SDM cases focus within a single country, we describe an application to a decision context for transboundary conservation involving two protected areas cooperating to conserve a common landscape subdivided by an international border. SDM is a process to inform decision-making that is often implemented using steps referred to as PrOACT (Problem framing, Objectives, Alternative strategies, Consequences, and Tradeoffs). The management decision question developed during the problem framing step (Building Block 1) helps guide the remaining SDM process. PrOACT steps are usually iterative; for example, quantitative measures for objectives (BB2) must often be defined when modelling the consequences (BB4) of management options (BB3). Conducting a sensitivity analysis (BB5) ensures the implemented option accounts for uncertainties about representativeness of stakeholders (BB1) their value trade-offs (BB4), and modelled consequences of management options (BB4).


The joint, participatory process led to improved stakeholder engagement and allowed for more frequent communication between authorities of the two protected areas. Authorities from each park came to a common understanding of shared objectives, actions, external factors at least partly beyond their control, and their linkages regarding bear management. The project generated a decision-analytic tool that can be expanded to inform an adaptive bear-management program. The authorities also learned about structured decision making as a participatory decision-analytic process, which they recognized can be applied in other projects. The agreed upon actions are expected to help increase carrying capacity of brown bears within and beyond the TB area by >50%, maintain sustainable agriculture by retaining small farms, and minimize conflict among stakeholder groups. During the project, Slovenian park authorities successfully lobbied for a change in legislation that reduced administrative hurdles to remove bears from the wild following disturbances to private property. Reducing this administrative burden will improve the public perception of protected area management of brown bear in the TB region.


Triglav National Park
The one-day stakeholder workshop held in Mojstrana, Slovenia was an important moment for the Julian Alps Transboundary Ecoregion, as it was the first time that stakeholder groups from both sides of the Italian- Slovenian border met to address a focused natural resource management and transboundary conservation issue. Although much time was spent on the decision analysis, there were also opportunities for the 12 participants to speak together openly about their concerns and wishes regarding bear management in the TB area. One participant talked about how challenging it is to manage conflicts between bears and mountain farmers. Bear-proof fences are next to impossible to install due to the rugged terrain, and so to protect their sheep the farmers must hire personnel to help them monitor and deter bears around the clock. They struggled to see the value in discussing long-term allocation decisions for the protected areas when stakeholders need immediate help in dealing with human-bear conflicts on a day-to-day basis. The park managers, however, were convinced that the process was useful and they were happy that the workshop brought these representatives together and worked through this very contentious and complex issue in a productive way. They acknowledged that the day-to-day issues can only be addressed if there is a good transboundary coordination between both protected areas and other stakeholder groups, which requires first a long-term strategy before focusing in on the finer-scale issues. Indeed, most participants indicated in the workshop questionnaire that the structured decision making process could be successfully applied to address other natural resource management and conservation issues in the Julian Alps and beyond.

Contributed by

brady.mattsson_6496's picture

Brady Mattsson Mr.

Other contributors

Institute of Silviculture, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna Austria
Triglav National Park, Bled, Slovenia
Prealpi Giulie Nature Park, Resia, Italy
Institute of Silviculture, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna Austria