Nature tourism and particularly tourism in national parks have acquired significant importance in contemporary societies. Post-Fordist consumers have reevaluated the meanings of nature' and natural spaces' and now avoid standardization to seek singularity. Tourism in national parks is a consequence of this tendency and has both positive and negative aspects. The purpose of this sociological research is to describe the most relevant conflicts in the Picos de Europa National Park (Spain) involving the park's conservation, local economic development, and tourism. Seven in-depth interviews and three focus groups were addressed to key local stakeholders. In this research were identified three chief areas of existing or potential inter-related conflicts and the main actors interacting with them. The first is on population, particularly, the negative consequences of depopulations on the local socio-economic development and the environment. A second source of conflicts identified is caused by the difficult conciliation between commercial exploitation and conservation of the protected natural area. More precisely, this specific form of tourism positively contributes to the economy of local communities whilst problems can arise for the conservation goals of National Parks. Thirdly, in this research is also analyzed the institutional governance and the inter and intra-governmental conflicts as well as with the Park's management body. These findings provide important information for the improved management of tourism and conflicting interests in natural parks.
national parks; environmental conservation; nature tourism; mountain traditional economy; picos de europa; spain; protected areas; mass tourism; biodiversity; indicators