April 21st – Join the swarm for World Fish Migration Day 2018!

Published on:

The World Fish Migration Foundation coordinates World Fish Migration Day 2018 (WFMD) – connecting Fish, Rivers and People all over the globe through a wave of local events. Each of them aiming to create awareness on the importance of open rivers and migratory fish. Following the idea that creating awareness and connection are the first vital steps towards creating lasting commitments for making change happen globally.


Learn all about the inspiring happening in this 4-minute clip:

How does it work?

In every country, organisations host their own events – some internally, but mainly open to the public. What matters most is to create experiences that reach people and make them aware how fish migration matters to our eco-system and to communities’ livelihoods.

The idea is to inspire, share experiences and create connectedness from where joint commitment and actions can arise at global level. All of us, with our organisations are asked to spread awareness about the need for protection and development of migratory fish populations in river systems worldwide.

Why Migratory Fish Matters?

Many migratory fish species – reliant on migration to reproduce and to feed – are severely threatened by dams, weirs and sluices. Those man-made interventions interfere with rivers’ natural flow and that way with migratory routes. Migratory fish are essential to healthy and productive river systems and they play a vital role in the food chain – being an important food supply and livelihood for millions of people around the world after all.

How to get involved?

Inspire the swarm in Social Media: Check out events planned in your country and promote them using the hashtag: #worldfishmigrationday

Fish for attention & host your own event: Participating organizations organize their own event and outreach communication under the umbrella of the World Fish Migration Day (WFMD). Register and get some support guidelines by the WMFF: HERE.

Why hosting a WMFD event –  and what to do? Watch this short videoclip with National Geographic Fellow Dr. Zeb Hogan reporting s from Cambodia!

Need some more inspiration? Here you can find a global map of events planned so far for 2018.

Become a supporter organisation – help WFMD swimming upstream: The WFMD is supported by many organisations around the world, who help communicate and reach out to others. Have a look at other supporting organisations – could you be one of them?  

(The wonderful) EUROPARC new members in 2017

Ozery Landscape Reserve, Belarus - Park Archive

Published on:

In 2017, EUROPARC welcomed 18 new members in the network! However, many more are to come… Despite the official merge with FEDENATUR in September 2017 in Portugal, FEDENATUR members will officially join EUROPARC in 2018. Stay tuned, as we will be announcing them one by one…!

For now, discover the new members that joined us in 2017…

From Belarus

For the first time, our network expanded to Belarus, as 2 Landscape Reserves joined in: the Republican landscape reserve Nalibokskiy and the Republican landscape reserve Ozery.

Nalibokskiy Landscape Reserve, Belarus – Park Archive

From Belgium

The Landscape Park Bulskampveld lies in the Hinterland of Bruges, one of the woodiest areas in Flanders. The Landscape Park is the largest connecting forest area in the province and covers no less than 90 km², offering over 150 kms of hiking trails. Besides, picturesque polder villages, charming cities, medieval castles and abbeys, and local produce delight the many tourists that visit the region.

Bulskampveld Landscape Park, Belgium

Bulskampveld Landscape Park, Belgium – Archive Brugse Ommeland

From Denmark

Imagine a park that encompasses forest, meadows, marshlands, dunes, beach, and sea… that is the Wadden Sea National Park of Denmark (Nationalpark Vadehavet in Danish). See for yourself:

From Finland

The Friends of the Bothnian National Park joined our membership. They built a partnership between communities and citizens in the Bothnian Sea aiming to bring together those interested in the cultural and natural heritage in and around the Park. Read more about the Bothnian Sea National Park (Selkämeren kansallispuisto – Bottenhavets nationalpark in Finnish).

Bothnian Sea National Park, Finland – Säppi – photo by Anssi Riihiaho, Metsähallitus

From Germany

In 2017, we welcomed 2 National Parks from Germany. In the Black Forest National Park (Schwarzwald Nationalpark in German) with its forests, bogs, grinds and lakes you can experience attractive contrasts: sometimes nature is gentle and lovely, sometimes wild and untamed.

Black Forest National park, Schwarzwald

Black Forest National Park, Germany – Buhlbachsee – photo by Arne Kolb

The Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park is home to a large community of wildcats, shy animals that need lots of tranquility. Peace and quietness is exactly what Hunsrück, with its long, expansive forests, offers this species. In addition to the nature, the National Park offers a unique insight into cultural and historic relics from the Celtic and Roman eras.

From Luxembourg

The Our Nature Park is characterized by the vast plateau and the narrow, romantic rock valleys that have the rivers Our and Clerve have dug. Valuable habitats for many endangered plant and bird species have been preserved in the wetlands and remote areas of the river valleys.

our nature park, luxembourg

Our Nature Park, Luxembourg – photo: Park Archive

From Spain

The Girona Provincial Council (Diputació de Girona in Catalan) supports the municipalities of the counties of Girona with the aim of providing all citizens with quality public services. The Council is responsible for the management of natural areas, where Montseny Nature Park is included.

Montseny Nature Park

Montseny Nature Park, Spain – photo: Park Archive

From Switzerland

By encompassing in its territory large areas of forest, a valley with marshes and peat bogs, mountains and ridges covered with wooded pastures and, at their foot, a plateau consisting mainly of agricultural areas … The Park Jura vaudois is full of life! This diversity of landscape offers many habitats for a particular flora and fauna, and the Park has a fundamental role to conserve local biodiversity, whilst promoting traditional economic activities. The Park Jura vaudois was also the host of EUROPARC Conference in 2016!

Parc Jura Vaudois, Switzerland © Serge Goy

Parc Jura Vaudois, Switzerland © Serge Goy

Honorary Members

In Portugal, during EUROPARC General Assembly, members voted to invite as honorary members those awarded the Alfred Toepfer Medal. Therefore, we are pleased to announce that the following holders of the Medal are now Honorary Members of EUROPARC:

  • Antonio López Lillo, Spain – holder of the Medal in 1994
  • Arthur Mitchell, UK – holder of the Medal in 2012
  • Gordon Miller, UK – Holder of the Medal in 2009
  • Josep Maria Pratz, Spain – holder of the Medal in 2002
  • Lassi Karivalo, Finland – holder of the Medal in 2010
  • Malcolm Payne, UK – holder of the Medal in 2001
  • Patrizia Rossi, Italy – holder of the Medal in 2006
  • Rauno Väisänen, Finland – holder of the Medal in 2017

Would you like to be part of the biggest network of Protected Areas in Europe?

Read all about it on this page.

Protecting old-growth forest in Europe

Montenegro, Biogradska Gora National Park © Park archive

Published on:

Why discussing old-growth forest at all?

An old-growth forest is a forest that has attained great age without significant disturbance and thereby exhibits unique ecological features. In this sense, old-growth forests serve as reference for assessing the conservation status of forests and, specifically, they are used to set Favourable Reference Values for Forest Habitats identified in the Habitats Directive.

Old-growth forests are characterised by multi-layered canopies and canopy gaps, greatly varying tree heights and diameters – with diverse tree species and classes and sizes of woody debris.

This diversity of tree-related structures provide different wildlife habitats that greatly increases the biodiversity of the forested ecosystem.

What is being discussed in Brussels…

a common protection strategy for Europe?

With the major aim to discuss options for building a common protection strategy for the remaining old-growth forest (OGF) areas across Europe, Wild Europe (WE) and the EU Committee of the Regions organised the “Conference for protection of old-growth forest in Europe”  on 13th and 14th September 2017 in Brussels. Being a partner of Wild Europe, EUROPARC participated in this event, alongside with representatives from various European governmental institutions and civil society voices from local to international levels.

Conference for protection of old-growth forest in Europe, Brussels, September 2017 – photo by Wild Europe

Ensuring a multi-sector approach to involving the diverse stakeholders from all relevant levels was a major priority for Wild Europe when developing an effective protection strategy: At the conference, institutions such as UNESCO, European Commission, Council of Europe, national and local governments were present as well as foresters, state agencies, enterprise specialists, landowners and conservation NGOs. All contributing actively in their roles as speakers or participants towards finding a shared strategy.

The ClientEarth lawyer network was there to advise everyone on legal and policy aspects of OGF protection and the Conservation Capital provided some specialist insight how to incentivise the private sector to engage in protection activities.

Two further highlights from EUROPARC perspective:

  • Our former President Erika Stanciu led a workshop on OGF management best practice & training for protection (in her role as ProParks Foundation Director and Former State Secretary for Forests at the Romanian Ministry of Environment).
  • Oscar Schwendtner from Bioma Forestal introduced examples of OGF protection initiatives at local, regional, national and international level run in Spain. As example for good networking practices at national level, Mr. Schwendtner showcased the activities of EUROPARC Spain’s “Conservation Group” and introduced EUROPARC Spain’s LIFE project on OGF in the Mediterranean – “RedBosques”.

Get an idea of RedBosques further down in this article and make sure you follow their work on the project website.

Old-Growth Forests in EU Policy – is it relevant?

Posing the question, how aware EU policy-makers are of the need for OGF protection, Daniel Calleja (European Commission-DG Environment) gave an encouraging outlook,

we are committed to restoring and protecting Old Growth Forests

Humberto Delgado (Head of Natural Capital, DG Environment) supported this statement and emphasized “the value of OGF for European climate change and ecosystem services agendas”. The main topics of the consequent debate were

Old-growth and future-ready: What’s needed now?

The next steps towards a common OGF protection strategy.

Main objectives and actions were mapped out at the conference and followed up by a Wild Europe Meeting in December

  • The strategic objectives should be linked to the climate change agenda and indicate the economic value of OGF protection. To raise the topic on political agendas and get the private sector on board.
  • Agreeing on a shared European definition of OGF. To achieve an effective common approach towards protection and restoration.
  • The definition should be practical and therefore relatively flexible to allow its adjustment to different national realities and ensure it can be implemented.
  • Putting in place an instrument to locate and monitor old growth forest sites across Europe. To provide early notice of prospective threats, allowing also to discriminate between “legal” and “illegal” logging activities for example.
  • Conduction of an assessment of new forms of long-term protection structures: traditional and innovative, including proposals for improving cash flow opportunities from the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) agenda.
  • Investigation of the potential of coordination between UNESCO World Heritage and Natura 2000 networks, with the protection strategy acting as a pilot.

A comprehensive compilation of the speakers, topics and presentations from the Wild Europe conference can be accessed here. You might also want to find out some further information on the preparatory consultations for the proposed protection strategy, but most importantly: Make sure you follow the updates on the process provided here or by getting in touch with Wild Europe.

Different countries, different relevance

What’s being done across countries already?

The high number of registrations to the conference (about 150 participants from 28 EU and non-EU countries) indicates the high interest in the issue by the different countries. From Wild Europe Network, members confirm that the identification of new OGF areas and their protection was currently high on Romanian and Ukrainian political agendas (including allocation of funding). In Austria, the topic was not discussed as extensively but was nevertheless considered relevant; and in the case of Germany, OGF were considered an important argument to advocate for more national wilderness.


PN Puebla de San Miguel Spain

Country Case: Management of old-growth forests in Spain 

What are the challenges at management level in Spain?

EUROPARC Spain old-growth forests are one of the central focus of RedBosques, a 3 year Life project, coordinated by EUROPARC Spain, which seeks to:

  • outline baseline scenarios for assessing the conservation status of Mediterranean forests
  • develop criteria and tools for the design and implementation of forestry management practices in Natura 2000 Mediterranean forests with objectives that regard biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation
  • transfer state-of- the-art knowledge to target audience and stakeholders.

In the context of the Life RedBosques project, EUROPARC Spain recently organised a three-day meeting (22-24 November 2017)  in the Els Ports nature park (Tarragona), with about 40 attendees involving forest and protected areas managers,  administration representatives and the private sector (landowners). Teresa Pastor, from EUROPARC Directorate, also attended.

The focus of the meeting was twofold: to share the progress of identification of old-growth forests in the different Spanish regions and to exchange on management practices to accelerate the process of maturation of those forests in a state close to old-growth.

Managment actions – if any – should:

  • be directed to emulate nature
  • by recreating natural events such as lightings and strong winds
  • which would produce the fall down of tres and the breaking of branches
  • eventually leaving wood debris on the soil.

Get some background on the RedBosques project beginnings in our article here. Follow how RedBosques project approaches its challenging objectives via EUROPARC Spain’s Twitter, Facebook and the LIFE project website – and make sure you don’t forget to share their outputs!

The project is coordinated by EUROPARC Spain (José Antonio Atauri) and Fundación Fernando González Bernáldez.

Advocating for the future of the EU LIFE Programme

Published on:

The EU multi-annual financial framework (MFF) is being reviewed by the European Union for the programming period post-2020. Discussions have started, and EUROPARC, together with several NGOs, wants to ensure that adequate funding for nature conservation is kept. 

The LIFE Programme is the main direct instrument that helps implementation on the ground, and over the past 25 years, has been a great support for the protection of Europe’s species and habitats. Recently, the European Commission’s mid‐term evaluation of the LIFE programme confirmed the LIFE programme is delivering in line with set targets.

There is evidence of a positive cost‐benefit ratio when comparing funding to societal gains and LIFE appears to cost less to manage than the other EU funded programmes. It is estimated that projects funded in the 2014 call for proposals will produce a benefit to society of approximately €1.7 billion, more than four times the overall LIFE budget for 2014.

European Protected Areas have widely trusted in the LIFE Programme to implement their conservation activities.  LIFE is also a crucial instrument that can contribute to implementing the EU Action Plan for nature, people and the economy, that has been recently published by the European Commission. Therefore,

EUROPARC believes the EU LIFE programme should continue and be strengthened with a focus on supporting better implementation of the nature directives.

To raise EUROPARC’s position and stress the importance of the LIFE Programme, over the last months EUROPARC team in Brussels, President Ignace Schops and Executive Director Carol Ritchie, have organised several meetings with Members of the European Parliament (MEP).

Moreover, EUROPARC and 16 organisations members of the European Habitats Forum sharing the same position regarding the programme, have sent today a joint letter to the European Commission reinforcing the importance of the EU LIFE Programme. The full letter can be downloaded here and below we share with you the main highlights.

The EU LIFE Programme in the next Multi‐annual Financial Framework (MFF)

The above mentioned members of the European Habitats Forum (EHF) have agreed the following position regarding the EU LIFE Programme:

LIFE in the future EU budget:

The LIFE programme should continue in the next MFF as a standalone funding instrument. The European Commission should acknowledge the value for money of the LIFE programme, the high return rates and potential for job creation from green investments and propose a significant increase in the LIFE budget.

  • Funding for LIFE should receive at least 1% of the total EU budget (currently receives only 0,3%)
  • At least 50% of the LIFE budget should be dedicated to the LIFE Nature and Biodiversity sub‐programme
  • The general co‐financing rate should be increased to 75% to overcome financial constraints of applicants
  • The administrative burden should be reduced and a two‐step application procedure introduced

Why LIFE is important:

  •  LIFE promotes the EU and European integration
  • LIFE promotes the values of the EU
  • LIFE saves species from extinction
  • LIFE is value for money – The LIFE funds bring jobs and growth. A study estimated that over its seven year duration the LIFE Programme creates 74 500 jobs (FTE), an economic growth of 9,3 billion EUR and the value of the results achieved through Nature projects alone is estimated to be 43 billion EUR.
  • LIFE has lasting results
  • LIFE brings people together
  • LIFE innovates

Download the full letter sent to the European Commission – LIFE Position

LIFE is the only financial instrument under the EU budget wholly dedicated to the environment, nature conservation and climate change. The fund is very small: only 0,3% of the EU budget, with LIFE Nature and Biodiversity Action Grants allocated around 40% of the LIFE budget.