The paper presents an empirical analysis of recent activities in the management of Protected Areas (PAs) based on 11 projects in Austrian PAs, ranging from the development of the idea and vision to the planning and implementation of these projects. In a systemised review, these projects are presented as graphic representations (‘fingerprints’) of attributes, such as the underlying Scientific Disciplines (SciDs), the Forming Principles (FoPs) and the Fields of Activities (FoAs). The FoPs, such as sustainable development, good governance and innovation, were assessed. The analysis clearly indicates that sustainable development is an emerging issue in all projects. Recent concepts of the management of PAs may be seen as an ongoing intervention to maintain sustainability at the local or regional level. However, the fingerprints also prove that there is an inherent link between sustainable development and good governance. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without the appropriate means and mechanisms for empowering and involving the stakeholders and partners, and for holding them responsible. Furthermore, there is evidence that this interrelation requires a new understanding of planning (‘extreme planning’). From the results, the author draws the conclusion that PAs, stringently put into the context of sustainable development, form a ‘third generation’ of PAs. The most important and distinctive elements of this new generation are the new mechanisms of steering and governing, an increasing number of SciDs and a new understanding of the socio-sphere in the eco-sphere. The management has increased in complexity and thus requires particular personal and technical competencies.
Keywords: protected area, conservation, concepts, integrated management, governance