Land use changes induced by nature conservation regulation and management practices, especially in protected areas, often result in trade-offs between ecosystem services (ESs). Exploring trade-offs between ESs and linking them with stakeholders can help reveal the potential losers and winners of land use changes. In this paper, we demonstrate that ES trade-offs do not always go hand in hand with conflicts. The perception of local stakeholders about trade-offs between ESs at three protected sites in the Great Hungarian Plain were assessed through qualitative methods. In all areas significant conservation measures had been introduced since the 1990s resulting in land use changes. Locals (farmers at each site and inhabitants at one site) were the main 'losers' of the land use changes and related ES trade-offs, while there were many winners at different spatial and temporal scales. Conflicts appeared only between locals and the national park directorates, and not between locals and other beneficiaries of the new ESs. Due to scale mismatch, locals might not be in direct contact with other stakeholders, and vice versa, and therefore there is no interface between them for confrontation and negotiation. Integrating scale into the analysis also helps in advising policy instruments to minimise local-level conflicts.
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