We are Sustainable Farmers!

Liesjärvi National Park © Tuomas Uola (FI)

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During millennia, men have been sculpting landscape with farming and pasture lands, creating complex ecosystems where men and nature cooperated in harmony. Thousands of species have adapted and currently depend on these agroecological structures and men developed an intimate relation between food production and cultural heritage.

However, in a rapidly urbanized population, people are losing contact with their food sources, while modern production practices – large monocultures and use of pesticides – threatens our biodiversity and food safety. Protected areas have the potential to be places where people and farming can live, work and learn how to manage the land sustainably.

How can we make farming in and near protected areas more nature friendly? What are the needs of farmers in their relationship to a protected area? How do we develop local products and brand them with the park?

europarc conference, conférence europarc, 2016, europarcDuring EUROPARC Conference 2016, we will be finding solutions together for sustainable agriculture practices and farmers engagement in protected areas. “We are Sustainable Farmers” brings examples from across Europe, and will discuss how we can achieve a better understanding between nature conservation and farming perspectives.

Sustainable Agriculture: European Perspectives

The Wicklow Uplands Council, Ireland

In response to the challenges facing the uplands (caused by the decrease of sheep grazing and growth of uncontrolled wildfires), cross community discussions have been taking place in Wicklow, over the last four years, to develop a new consensus based approach to upland management which seeks both to restore biodiversity and support a recovery in upland farming. The Wicklow Uplands Council will share how they have been involving the population for the establishement of a Working Group with representation from local and national stakeholders.

West-Estonian Islands Partnership LAG, Estonia

In the province of Saarema, LAG is supporting the creation of nature-based businesses with the local and traditional products. They provided training and organised several activities to promote cooperation and share of experiences among small farmers. By working directly with the local communities, and investing in infrastructures for co-production and innovation, they were able to stimulate local entrepreneurship and developed a regional brand for products. LAG will be sharing the bottom up approach and the results of the project.

More about Sustainable Agriculture

Agrobiodiversity is the result of years of interaction between man and the environment. It is the virtuous small-scale producers, farmers and artisans who, with their work, contribute to safeguarding biodiversity, ecosystems, the landscape, plant varieties and animal breeds in every corner of the world. Small-scale food producers are the most important guardians of agrobiodiversity. The creation of alliances between protected areas and local farming will mean being able to:

  • put into effect good practices for environmental sustainability in agriculture
  • add value to local production, offering a future to the traditional knowledge of rural culture
  • promote local social and economic development, contributing to preserving the diversity of parks’ habitats and endemic species
  • give significant added value to the parks and agricultural businesses involved, creating places where agrobiodiversity can be promoted.

Additionally, joint initiatives of education and awareness-raising aimed at the public are essential to spread the awareness that all together, with our choices as consumers, we can have a crucial impact on the safeguarding of biodiversity.

EUROPARC and Slow Food are working together to promote closer cooperation for sustainable agriculture and biodiversity among Protected Areas and local producers, and as part of our joint cooperation, we are pleased to publish the leaflet “Agriculture and Biodiversity in Protected Areas”.

Passion for Nature – Biogeographical Seminar

Parc Naturel Regional Montaigne de Reims (FR) © Fanny Husson

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Which are the priorities for governance models in Natura 2000 sites? What is the link between nature and human dimensions such as tourism, human health, economic development or job creation?

On 12-14 October, in Lommel, Belgium, Natura 2000 sites managers will be exploring these dimensions and exchange solutions for the sustainable development of regions across Europe. The Biogeographic seminar “Passion for Nature” will focus on the subject of “Integrated Governance: Mainstreaming Opportunities for Nature & Society”, aiming at disseminating best practices and discuss new approaches that benefit nature and people.

working with people’s “Passion for Nature” enables us to position biodiversity, nature and ecosystem services as essential pillars for greening economies, as well as for innovation,

stated the Biogeographical organiser, Bosland (a statutory partnership between the municipalities of Hechtel-Eksel, Overpelt, and Lommel, the Flemish Agency for Nature and Forest, Regionaal Landschap Lage Kempen and Limburg Tourism). The Biogeographical Seminar is co-organised by the European Center for Nature Conservation and overlaps the Bosland‘s 10 years Anniversary Conference. The detailed programme is available here and it is an interesting opportunity to network with colleagues from around Europe, therefore, every Natura 2000 site managing authority is invited to participate, by clicking here

About the Biogeographical Process

In 2012, the European Commission launched the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process to help meeting the targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. It is a multi-stakeholder cooperation process at the biogeographical level that includes seminars, workshops and cooperation activities aimed at enhancing the effective implementation, management, monitoring, financing and reporting of the Natura 2000 network. It is a process that “promotes the exchange of knowledge and cooperation on Natura 2000 management beyond national borders, within and between biogeographical regions”.

More information can be found here.


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New management models for Protected Areas

Protected Areas and the natural values kept inside them, are without doubt one of the most valuable resources we need to preserve. But, what if these resources can be exploited in a sustainable manner without compromising its preservation? What if we can give to protected areas an added value to our society?

At the present year, different European partners joined efforts and started a new and challenging initiative; the IMPACT-INTERREG EUROPE project. This project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, aims to explore new management models to balance preservation and exploitation of Protected Areas.

Through a four year process, different regional administrations around Europe will help to transform the potential of the natural values present at their regions into growth, income and green jobs that will benefit the surrounding communities.

Different challenges for different regions

However, this is not an easy task, and the different project partners will need to face different challenges for every region where the project will be implemented… How can profitable activities and nature preservation be combined? How can different stakeholders with different interests work together towards a common goal? These are just some of the questions that will need to be addressed in order to find more sustainable and efficient ways of managing Europe’s Protected Areas.

As part of the IMPACT-INTERREG EUROPE project, EUROPARC will be putting great effort in finding ways to integrate nature conservation and sustainable development with the following partners:

Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning of Andalusia, Regional Government of Andalucía, Spain – Leader Partner.
EUCC Baltic Office, Lithuania.
Molise Region, Italy.
National Institute for Research and Development in Tourism, Romania.
Espaces naturels régionaux, France.

Want to know more?

Visit IMPACT-INTERREG EUROPE website, or keep an eye on our website and social media to find out exciting news and updates on one of Europe’s most thrilling challenges!


Periurban Parks: nature closer than you imagine

Collserola Nature Park, aperurban Park in the doors of Barcelona Photo by Caminar BCN 12 blog ( http://caminarbcn12-13t.blogspot.de/2012/12/collserola-un-parque-aislado-para-la.html)

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How would it feel to relax in nature after a long day of work? Trekking in a forest, running through a meadow, or simply wandering along a river, just nearby your town?

Periurban parks bring us these possibilities and much more: they protect us! They refresh city temperatures; absorb air pollutants and decrease traffic noise. They look after our physical and mental health. They are outdoors gym, nature-schools and a green place to meet with family and friends. In some areas, Periurban parks are also places where one can grow and buy fresh and organic vegetables!

Besides, periurban parks are essential components of Green Infrastructure – a new way to provide landscape connectivity and to preserve the territory and its ecosystem services. Periurban parks can adopt very different forms: they can be forests, rivers, green rings, agro-ecological spaces and re-naturalised landscapes. All located at the city doors! 

But life in a city can be harsh; for periurban parks as well. They receive a lot of pressure: visitors overflow, unwanted city equipment, exotic species and vandalism. These are threats that managers have to deal with, while trying to protect biodiversity.

Today, with over 80% of the European population living in urban and suburban areas, the conservation of this natural non-urbanized areas on the outskirts of cities urges to be addressed.

We are close to cities

In the tutorial We are close to cities at EUROPARC Conference 2016, we will exchange good practices, ideas, thoughts and learn from Periurban parks with a long experience in this matter!

In the tutorial we will showcase:

  • The Collserola Natural Park, a well-preserved 8,000-hectare forest located at the heart of the Barcelona metropolitan area. Protected since 1987, Collserola is a much-loved place, an immensely valuable natural area for the huge population that lives around.
  • The Parco Nord and Parco agricolo Sud Milano, the two main natural areas composing the greenbelt of Milan city. The Parco Nord is a re-naturalised greenspace, built from scratch 40 years ago. It is today’s green place for Milano citizens. The Parco agricolo Sud Milano is a vast agro-ecological space, which combines productive activity with the ever higher social demand of open space.

Further Readings

FEDENATUR –  the European Federation of Natural and Rural Metropolitan and Periurban Spaces – now forms part of the EUROPARC family!  If you want to know more about Periurban Parks, visit the website www.fedenatur.org.