As an EU Member State, Poland agreed to designate sites of the Natura 2000 on its territory. At present, Natura 2000 covers approx. 1/5 of the territory of country and is part of the European Ecological Network Natura 2000 (N2000). In the process of marking out the boundaries of the sites, not enough time has been devoted to disseminating information about N2000 and consulting local authorities; Thus, it should not come as a surprise that many citizens consider the network an impediment to economic growth of rural areas within N2000 sites. This paper constitutes an element in the ongoing discussion of academic circles and local self-governments on the real and potential complications and limitations to the development of rural areas caused by the Natura 2000. The attempt to systematize the problems stemming from the activities of businessmen, farmers, commune authorities, and other citizens on sites within the Natura 2000 network, should be extremely useful in the early phase of managing the N2000 sites, particularly in the planning of conservation tasks, which will determine local conditions for business over the next 10 years. The results of the study and its conclusions should help successfully implement the idea of sustainable development of rural areas within EEN N2000, in the name of a necessary compromise between the economic needs of local communities and the requirements of environmental conservation. The aim of the paper is to increase the knowledge of socioeconomic processes that occur in rural communes covered by the Natura 2000 network and of actions that ought to be taken to prevent self-governments from treating this form of protection as yet another fairly troublesome duty and costly task.
Artur Boltromiuk, Ph.D. is a research worker at Faculty of Economics and Management, University of Bialystok
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