Transboundary Parks Programme: the strategy planning meeting

Members of the Transboundary

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Going into its 15th year, the EUROPARC’s Transboundary Parks programme counts with many successes for cross-border cooperation in Protected Areas. However, after such period, it is time not only to keep score of benefits and achievements but also to reveal the programme’s potential for the future.

8a_Transboundary logo

On 12th and 13th January, EUROPARC invited five distinguished members of TransParcNet, the network of EUROPARC’s certified transboundary areas, to a strategy planning meeting at EUROPARC headquarters. Jakub Kašpar from KRNAP (CZ), Leo Reyrink from Grenspark Maas-Swalm-Nette (NL), Arto Ahokumpu from Parks & Wildlife Finland (Metsähallitus) and Stefano Santi from Parco Naturale Prealpi Giulie (IT) made the trip to a cold and snowy Regensburg, whilst Tiia Kalske from Pasvik Inari Trilateral Park (NO) joined the discussion through skype.


Petra Schultheiß, the member of EUROPARC responsible for the Transboundary Parks Programme, reviewing the future topics of work with the members of the strategy planning meeting.

Assessing and planning

The two days of meeting were used efficiently to assess the status quo of the programme with its successes and its needs for the future:

the programme is perceived as a knowledge tool that offers peer learning opportunities and provides a European living network of transboundary experts.

The future of the programme will depend on good governance with clear roles and functions, not only inside the EUROPARC directorate. The commitment of many people, including the Transboundary Areas, task groups and individuals will help to bring a new level of activity, prominence and recognition to the Transboundary Parks Programme.

At the end, participants of the meeting identified six main areas of work that build the basis of the new strategy and will be brought to live with actions over the coming 2-4 years:

  • governance,
  • communication,
  • quality standards,
  • enlargement,
  • “foreign policy”
  • networking

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Future activities

Key activities like evaluations and re-evaluations or the cherished annual TransParcNet meeting will continue. They will be complemented by new actions such as creating a communication plan and material, produce training tools like videos and case studies or a campaign to initiate cooperation and participation of cross-border parks and other transboundary initiatives across Europe.

The EUROPARC directorate will remain the main hub of coordination for the activities and will be responsible for the overall implementation of the strategy. However, many actions will be lead directly by the task group formed by the meeting participants with support from ad-hoc task forces, where experts on certain topics, e.g. communication or funding, will be brought in to develop a certain task.

A visual summary of the meeting

Watch the video of the Transboundary strategy planning meeting and  learn more about the participants’ opinions.

EUROPARC is very grateful for the voluntary support of its members to take the work forward in planning meetings and the actual implementation of the strategy in order to continuously strengthen the Transboundary Parks Programme and make it fit for the future.

Learn more about the Transboundary Parks Programme. For more information contact p.schultheiss @

Protected Areas. Isn’t that old-fashioned?

The Swiss National Park was the second Park being created in Europe, in 1914 © Swiss National Park Archive

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Article issued by Carlos Romão

extracted from EUROPARC Journal Protected Areas In-Sight 2016


Photo from EUROPARC Spain Archive

Once upon a time… England, the 11th century, William (The Conqueror) created several ‘protected areas’ with the purpose of preserving game and forests, among them what is now the New Forest National Park. These are some of the oldest records in Europe of defined areas with a special management and dedicated laws.

Since then, the values or their perception has changed over time reflecting cultural, social, economic and political contexts: tools to conserve a specific resource (timber, game), ‘monuments’ of natural beauty and for aesthetical reasons, threatened species and habitats, labs of sustainable development and promotion of local products, etc.

Protected Areas is Europe

The first state-owned national parks in Europe were created in 1909 in Sweden and 1914 in Switzerland, with a steep increase after the 1st World War. The first trans-border park was created in 1932, in the Pienniny Mountains of Poland and Slovakia.

Between the 1970s and the 1990s, several of the international conventions on nature conservation included provisions for the creation or promotion of protected areas, including in the marine environment. Finally, the adoption of the EU Habitats Directive in 1992 gave birth to the Natura 2000 network.

Today, there are near 1.2 million square-kilometres of protected areas (almost the area of Spain, France and Germany); this is 21 % of the European terrestrial area and corresponds to 70 % of the records in the World Database of Protected Areas (from IUCN-UNEP).

The surface of protected areas doubled since the mid-1990s,

largely due to the creation of the Natura 2000 network. Currently, the network covers over 18 % of the terrestrial area and 6 % of the marine area.

pas-in-39-countires complementary-designatedmarine-pas

Graphics extracted from Carlos Romao presentation at EUROPARC Conference 2016

However, most biodiversity indicators and studies on the state of nature are rather gloomy:

  • near one-third of birds have a non-secure status (threatened, declining or depleted);
  • 60% of non-avian species assessments and
  • 77 % of habitats assessments from the Habitats Directive have an unfavourable-conservation status.

Moreover, the number of species and habitats further declining are much more than those improving; this indicates that we will most likely miss the EU 2020 biodiversity targets.

Does this mean protected areas are old-fashioned and they now have little value for conserving and restoring biodiversity?

Well, I have been fortunate to work and visit many protected areas in Europe and it is clear we see them working and delivering- not only for  biodiversity, but also many of the cultural, social and economic services and values that motivated humans through-out history, to identify, protect and especially manage defined portions of land and sea. This perception is backed-up by numerous studies published in peer-review journals or available as grey literature.

Clearly, protected areas are the backbone of nature conservation, but this type of ‘protection regime’ is not sufficient to address the significant pressures on the European biodiversity, such as : semi-natural habitats and farmland-related species being lost by abandonment of agricultural practices or its intensification; large-scale modification of freshwater systems; pollution and unsustainable fishing at sea.

  • semi-natural habitats and farmland-related species being lost by abandonment of agricultural practices or its intensification;
  • large-scale modification of freshwater systems;
  • pollution and unsustainable fishing at sea.

The clear local benefits of protected areas can only be multiplied through societal changes at local, regional, national, European and global levels.

carlos romao, european environment agency, europarc conference

Carlos de Oliveira Romao at EUROPARC Conference 2016, Parc Jura vaudois, Switzerland © Joao Romba

Carlos Romão is Project Manager specialised on Biodiversity and Ecosystems, at the European Environment Agency (EEA).

He has developed the first EU biodiversity baseline to support the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020, co-authored the first EEA report on protected areas and coordinated the EEA ‘State of Nature’ report. Currently, Carlos is working on reporting under the EU nature directives (Birds & Habitats) and on assessing conservation status of species and habitat types.


CDDA, EEA, 2015

EEA, 2012, ‘Protected areas in Europe – an overview’, EEA Report No 5/2012.

EEA, 2015, ‘State of nature in the EU – results from reporting under the nature directives’, EEA Technical report No 2/2015.

Natura 2000, EEA, 2016

WDPA, Protected Planet, 2016

Biodiversity and Health in the Face of Climate Change – Conference

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Biodiversity and Health in the Face of Climate Change

Challenges, opportunities and evidence gaps

27-29 June 2017, Bonn/Germany

Conference website

European Conference hosted by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and the European Network of Heads of Nature Conservation Agencies (ENCA) in co-operation with the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) / German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)

Climate change poses significant challenges to biodiversity and human well-being in Europe. As the majority of Europeans live in urban areas and cities are often subject to exacerbated heat island effects, consequences of climate change may be experienced first in urban settings. Biodiversity in urban as well as in adjacent rural areas, in turn, can provide health and climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits that can be actively fostered by nature-based solutions.

This joint European conference in Bonn will bring together experts from science, policy and practice to highlight and discuss the importance of biodiversity’s contribution to human health in the face of climate change. In this context health is considered in its physical, psychological and social dimension, including socio-environmental equity. The aim of the conference is to increase knowledge, share experiences and foster nature-based solutions to meet the challenges of climate change and health issues.

The conference is divided into three main areas (day 1: science, day 2: practice and implementation, day 3: policy and economy) and will feature presentations by leading experts in the fields of biodiversity, health and climate change including:

–          Humberto Delgado Rosa (European Commission, DG Environment, Director for Natural Capital)

–          Hans Bruyninckx (Executive Director European Environmental Agency, EEA) tbc

–          Cristina Romanelli (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD) tbc

–          Thomas Elmqvist (Stockholm Resilience Centre)

–          Richard Mitchell (Institute for Health and Wellbeing/CRESH, Glasgow University)

–          Kevin Gaston (University of Exeter, UK)

–          Terry Hartig (Upsala University, Sweden)

–          Catherine Ward Thompson (Edinburgh College of Art, UK)

–          Roderick Lawrence (Director of the Global Environmental Policy Program, University Geneva)

–          Thomas Claßen (NRW Centre for Health, Germany)

–          Karsten Mankowsky (Political chair of the German National Healthy Cities Network)

–          Chantal van Ham (IUCN) tbc

On day 2, interactive workshop sessions will address eight specific themes ranging from “Evidence for biodiversity’s contribution to health”, to “Health and protected areas” and “Psychological effects of nature and biodiversity” as well as “Linking initiatives in biodiversity, health and policy”, “Allergenic plants and vector borne diseases” and “Nature-based solutions for health and social equity”. In addition, “Landscape planning for multifunctional urban spaces” will be addressed. A special session is dedicated to “Lessons learned from green interventions for enhancing human health in urban areas”, where emphasis is given to good practice examples and the sharing of experience among community level actors.

Results of conference discussions will feed into ENCA recommendations for creating synergies between ongoing policy processes, scientific programmes and practical implementation of nature conservation measures in European urban and rural areas to support health measures in the face of a changing climate.

Here, you will find information on the conference programme and interactive sessions.

Networking opportunities and social events include an evening reception and a conference dinner.


Open abstract call for talks & posters

Abstracts and oral and poster presentations are welcomed! Oral presentations will be held within the eight interactive sessions. They are focused on contributions that demonstrate good practice in implementing nature-based solutions to health and equity issues in urban areas and their rural surroundings from a scientific, policy and practical perspective. Ideally these topics should be linked to climate change issues. Please notice that only a limited number of contributions can be accepted.

The themes are:

  • Biodiversity or green space? Evidence for contributions to health in a changing climate
  • Health and protected areas in a changing climate
  • Psychological effects of nature and biodiversity on human health and well-being
  • The benefits of green space for enhancing human health – lessons learned from urban interventions
  • Linking Initiatives in biodiversity, health and climate change action in policy and practice
  • Allergenic plants and vector borne disease – relevance to human health in a changing climate
  • Nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and their role in fostering health and socio-environmental equity
  • Planning and managing urban green spaces for health and biodiversity in a changing climate – Concepts, experiences, practice

Deadline for abstract submission is Monday, 6 February 2017 (abstract submission guidelines)



Early bird registration deadline: Monday, 3 April 2017

Final registration deadline: Monday, 29 May 2017

Please register here (Due to limited availability of places early registration is recommended.)

Transboundary Parks Programme on PANORAMA Solutions

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A new booklet entitled “Solutions in Focus: Transboundary Protected Area Solutions” has just been published by the PANORAMA initiative, coordinated by IUCN.  In the booklet, you will find 17 solutions that have been implemented by protected area managers addressing conservation and economic challenges in transboundary regions.

Eight of the solutions (see Table below) focus on parks that have been certified through the EUROPARC Transboundary Parks Programme.  These were developed in collaboration between protected area professionals and members of the Institute of Silviculture at the University of Natural Resources in Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria (BOKU) (Brady Mattsson and Sophia Fettinger) through the EU funded ForAdapt project.

Transboundary Parks on PANORAMA Solutions

PANORAMA solutions focused on protected areas certified through the EUROPARC Transboundary Certification Program.  These were developed in collaboration protected area professionals and members of the Institute of Silviculture at the University of Natural Resources in Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria through the EU funded ForAdapt project.
Panorama Solution
Protected Areas in Focus Title Topic
Bavarian Forest National Park (DE) and Šumava National Park (CZ) Transboundary strategy for communication about nature conservation External communication
EUROPARC Transboundary Parks Following nature’s design – A certification system for transboundary cooperation in protected areas Transboundary certification
Julian Alps Transboundary Ecoregion (IT/SI) Promoting transboundary co-existence of large carnivores Bear management
Maas-Schwalm-Nette Nature Park (NL/DE) Transboundary coordinated natural development and national park extension Transboundary park enhancement
Neusiedler See-Seewinkel & Fertö-Hanság (AU/HU) Developing a transboundary network of protected areas to improve nature experience Establishing transboundary network of PAs
Oulanka-Paanajärvi Transboundary Parks (FI/RU) Enhancing Sustainability and Cooperation in Transboundary National Parks Visitor information & management
Pasvik-Inari Trilateral Park (FI/NO/RU) Promotion of transboundary nature protection and sustainable nature tourism Promotion of nature protection &
sustainable nature tourism
Podyjí-Thayatal Transboundary Parks (CZ/AU) Transboundary cooperation for the removal of an invasive river plant Reduction of an invasive plant
Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland Transboundary integration and enhancement of public transportation system in a National Park region Public transportation

Transboundary Parks Programme on PANORAMA Webinar

One of the EUROPARC certified transboundary regions was also highlighted in an associated PANORAMA webinar “Transboundary Protected Area Solutions”, held on 7 December 2016. You can access the entire webinar recording and all presentations.