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08/01/2015   Results of the international cooperative audit of national parks

A report of the international cooperative audit of national parks was published today covering the results of the audits conducted by the Supreme Audit Institutions of Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Croatia, Poland, Norway, and Ukraine. The cooperative audit lasted for two years and was coordinated by the National Audit Office of Lithuania. Seven countries had agreed on common evaluation criteria and questions to be answered during the national audit. The joint cooperative audit report was prepared on the basis of the results of the national audits.

The audit involved very different countries. For example, Denmark and Bulgaria have only three national parks each, Lithuania has five, and Ukraine – as many as 48 ones. The first national park in Denmark was established in 2008, meanwhile the ones Poland, Croatia, and Norway – in 1932, 1949, and 1962, respectively. The foundation documents of the national parks of many countries that participated in the cooperative audit indicate that one of the main objectives of the parks is to preserve the diversity of nature; the Danish national parks, however, do not have such special status. Still, despite the differences, the auditors of all the countries managed to prepare joint audit conclusions and recommendations concerning the management of the national parks, protection of biodiversity, and funding.

It was found that the national parks in most of the countries that participated in the cooperative audit in principle do perform their functions and seek to fulfil the objectives set thereto by the government; however, they follow different management models. In Norway, for example, one board administers more than one park; also, the board consists of representatives of the local community, meanwhile in Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and Croatia, each park has its own directorate. However, in order to ensure smooth management of the parks and specific guidelines for the activities, biodiversity conservation, and the use or visitation of the parks, all of them need appropriate nature management plans, which have not been developed for all the parks. For example, forests had been cut and buildings had been constructed in the Ukrainian parks which did not have such plans, and the arguments put forward by the offenders to support their unauthorised activities were based on the absence of any approved plans governing the protection of the area and the activities therein. Also, the auditors pointed out that that the activity results provided for in such plans should be specific, relevant, and measurable, and the government should closely monitor the attainment of the objectives by the national parks.

The auditors agreed that the issue of a potential conflict of interest between the conservation of nature and activities in the national parks was relevant to all the countries, so it is important to regulate the flow of visitors to and the economic activities in the parks. Although most of the funds allocated to the national parks come from the state budget, some parks also have other sources of income. However, the desire to obtain additional income could conflict with the objective of preserving biodiversity. Consequently, in order to ensure that the national parks are able to carry out their functions in a proper manner, the funding from the budget should be based on the assessment of the needs of every national park.

The audit report provides specific examples of the administration of the national parks, protection of biodiversity, and funding from the participating countries, as well as the conclusions and recommendations of the national audits of all seven countries that have been issued to the governments of the participating countries. The results of the Lithuanian national audit were presented separately in July 2014.

Joint Audit Report: National Parks

 

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Last updated on 16 March 2015

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