EUROPARC Nordic-Baltic

Gauja National Park, Latvia © Martins Ziverts

europarc nordic balticThe Section’s year of creation: 2003

Number of members: 49 members in total in eight countries (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden)

The core areas of work: Sustainable tourism, health, protected areas management

Website: www.europarc-nb.org

Contact person: Giedrius Norvaišas

About their work

In 2015 protected areas in the Nordic-Baltic countries and thus in the section have been particularly effected by frequent changes in structural reorganisation, which were necessary to save expenses. This in turn has meant cutting back on staff and an in turn an increase in work load for those still working in parks. The situation has been particularly difficult in Norway and Denmark. A knock on effect has been less cooperation with international colleagues, which has led to more effort on behalf of the section presidency in maintaining close relationships amongst members. Specific activities carried out by section members differ depending on the country and its protected areas. Some examples can be seen below:

In Estonia the focus has been on preparing management plans for protected areas (420 protected areas now have management plans) and action plans for protected species (192 plans now exist).

In Latvia, the Latvian Nature Conservation Agency has been successful with the implementation of the LIFE project NAT PROGRAMME, which is working to determine areas of land for priority conservation actions. The NAT PROGRAMME project team has been working closely with leading species and habitat experts and using experience from other countries to develop Guidelines for Habitat Management and to improve habitat mapping. One of the greatest challenges in the project so far has been exploring and adapting management practices that are still fairly new for the public, such as the prescribed burning of certain habitats.

Lithuania has focused on the management of its designated natural areas over the past five years. This has involved restoring hydrological regimes; building new infrastructure such as visitor centres, exhibitions, nature schools, visual information systems, educational trails and observation towers; and preparing 174 planning documents for protected areas. In addition, a large number of abandoned buildings were demolished in protected areas in the country.

Public relations work is an important, often key theme for most of the protected areas in the section. In Sweden, a new brand and logo for Swedish national parks have been developed to increase the public’s interest in and understanding of nature and its conservation. The visitor centre Haltia, Finland, and the National Visitor Centre, Lithuania, have done outstanding work in the field of visitor information on protected areas in both countries.