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Protected areas are home to biodiversity, habitats and ecosystem as well as a critical component of human well-being and a generator of leisure-related revenues. However, management is sometimes unsatisfactory and requires new ways of evaluation. Management effectiveness of 36 protected areas in southern Ecuador have been assessed. The protected areas belong to three categories: Heritage of Natural Areas of the Ecuadorian State (PANE), created and funded by the State, Areas of Forest and Protective Vegetation (ABVP), created but no funded by the State, and private reserves, declared and funded by private entities. Management effectiveness was evaluated by answers of managers of the protected areas to questionnaires adapted to the socio-economic and environmental characteristics of the region. Questions were classified into six elements of evaluation: context, planning, inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes as recommended by IUCN. Results were classified into four levels: unsatisfactory, slightly satisfactory, satisfactory and very satisfactory. The PANE areas and private reserves showed higher management effectiveness levels (satisfactory and very satisfactory) than ABVP areas, where slightly satisfactory and unsatisfactory levels prevailed. Resources availability was found as the main reason behind this difference. The extension, age and province of location were found irrelevant. Outputs, inputs and processes require main efforts to improve management effectiveness. Improving planning and input in the PANE areas and inputs and outcomes on ABVP areas is necessary to obtain a similar result in all areas.
The Heritage of Natural Areas of the Ecuadorian State (PANE, in Spanish) and private reserves have the same level of management effectiveness score, rated as satisfactory and very satisfactory.
The Forest and Protective Vegetation (ABVP, in Spanish) have lower management effectiveness score that PANE areas and private reserves, prevailing levels slightly satisfactory and unsatisfactory.
Higher management effectiveness scores are associated with the availability of resources. While all PANE areas and private reserves have resources available, they are only available in a few of the ABVP areas (those with better management effectivenesses). Improving management effectiveness evaluation indices on the outputs, inputs and processes is necessary to enhance management effectiveness score.
Improving planning and input evaluation effectivenesses in the PANE areas and inputs and outcomes on ABVP areas is required to achieve a similar management effectiveness in all types of protected areas.
The extension, age and province of location are not determining factors in the management effectiveness score of the protected areas.