Protected area (PA) managers and policy makers need to determine and demonstrate the effectiveness of PA management and keep track of the conservation status in ways that are practical, scientifically sound and comparable among PAs in various terrestrial and aquatic environments.

This study aimed to develop a generally applicable method developed in close cooperation with PA managers, to avoid measuring managerial efficiency without the participation of practitioners.

The protection level index (PLI) includes ecological, socio-economic, as well as managerial factors, and consists of twelve variables that together describe the state of a PA. Seven of those variables are derived from interviews with PA managers, and five of them are derived from GIS analyses. Data were obtained during face-to-face interviews with PA managers using a fixed protocol, thereby introducing a new way of incorporating the perception of the PA managers.

The authors conclude that PLI is wider applicable than other related methods and more cost-effective. They also highlight that PLI can be used on a yearly basis to keep track of the progress of management activities and conservation status within and among PAs.

Hummel et al. (2021) A practical novel assessment tool for the socio-ecological condition of protected areas: the protection level index (PLI). Journal for Nature Conservation 64:126065.