This presentation focuses on how legal interventions for biodiversity conservation are received by local communities. The study was developed to accompany an habitat conservation and biodiversity protection project implemented by a national NGO and it has a before-after design, with two data collection moments. The main objectives are to address the positioning of rural communities towards the Natura 2000 sites were they live and to understand how the acceptance or refusal of the practices favouring biodiversity conservation are shaped by contextual factors. He first survey mapped positions before the NGO interventions, and the second survey will monitor the changes that meanwhile occurred. The research design of the first survey also contributes to clarifying a contradiction that emerges in the literature concerning the role of place identity on local involvement: some studies show that place identification is related to support to protected areas, others show that it is related to rejection of protected areas. We disentangle these apparently contradictory findings by examining the moderator role of relevant contextual variables: (a) vested interest regarding the natural resources of the area, (b) evaluation of the process of designation of the protected areas, and (c) trust in national authorities. The results of the first survey show that communities have a positive attitude towards protected areas, but are also aware of and elaborate on both the positive and the negative aspects associated with these institutional tools. Place identification is related with support to protected areas only when residents directly suffer the impacts of change (high vested interest), revealing that, in this context, pride of living in a protected area is particularly relevant for enabling positive evaluations of legislative interventions. The support to conservation practices is also very high, but these are more affected by contextual dimensions. The second survey – now under preparation - will explore the significant modifications in the positions of the rural communities as an outcome of the interventions of the conservation project team, but also the impact of more recent governmental policies. The discussion will focus on the relevance of addressing contextual factors related with the implementation of laws that affect the relation of local communities to biodiversity conservation goals.