Our History

Cover of EUROPARC publication "Passion. People. Protected Areas. 40 Years Working for Nature." © EUROPARC Federation

The EUROPARC Federation was founded in Basel (CH) in 1973 but for most of its life has been based in Germany and we have proudly been supporting the work of our members in Protected Areas across Europe, for over 40 years “Working for Nature”.

Read the fascinating story of the people and ideas that shaped the formation of Europe’s largest Protected Area organisation in our history publication available for download at the end of this page.

From our headquarters in Regensburg (DE) and our office in Brussels (BE) and with active members and sections all over Europe, EUROPARC seeks to create a legacy, building on what we have learned throughout our history, to support our members as they manage all aspects of European Protected Areas.

Many projects and programmes have been implemented and completed since EUROPARC started. The Federation has significantly contributed to enhance public awareness about Protected Areas and influenced European nature conservation policies. You will find more detailed information about our activities in the sections Nature & People and Get Involved.

The Federations’ members represent hundreds of responsible authorities and thousands of Protected Areas in 36 countries. EUROPARC is recognised around the world as a professional network of European Protected Areas. Check out who are our members.

It is a long history – and a long story. To choose all the key dates of the Federation is almost an impossible task, but we have searched our archives and chose the most compelling moments and happenings which are presented below.

History line of the EUROPARC Federation

1973, 12th of May Foundation of the EUROPARC Federation in Saarbrücken (DE)

Shortly after its foundation work on a European level starts. EUROPARC is among the bodies represented at the first European Ministerial Conference on the Environment staged by the Council of Europe, we continue to work closely with the Council of Europe to this day.

1974 First General Assembly in Goslar (DE): first statutes, Presidium under Alfred Toepfer,
Standing Committee

1975 Second General Assembly in Passau (DE)
EUROPARC represented at IUCN General Assembly in Kinshasa

1983 10 years of EUROPARC
Third National Park in Germany is designated: Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer

1986 New Headquarters in Grafenau (DE); first full time employee is Ms Eva Pongratz

1988 Partnership agreements with IUCN, WCMC and EUROPARC

1990 First Alfred Toepfer Medal award for Theo Burrell (at GA in Manzanares, ES)

1992 EUROPARC publishes common policy statement on the protection of natural development of ecosystems, as a concept for European Protected Areas, at GA in Helsinki (FI)

1993 Publication of “Loving them to Death”
Launch of the partnership and exchange programme that lasts until 1998

1995 Draft of a “Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas”

1998 Seat of the Federation is moved to Germany, registration under German legislation

1999 First European Day of Parks on May 24th: more than 100 organisations from 18 European countries organize events

In order to ensure harmony in the way Protected Areas are classified internationally, a first step has been made with the publication of Guidelines for Protected Area Management Categories – Interpretation and Application in Europe, EUROPARC, Grafenau, Germany.

2000 Final version of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas

2002 Junior Ranger Programme

2003 Start of the „Transboundary Parks – Following Nature´s Design” Programme

2008 June Carol Ritchie starts as director of EUROPARC Federation
First eNewsletter published. Launch of www.europarc.org

2010 Headquarters moves to Regensburg (DE)

2011 EUROPARC Federation joins Facebook

2013 “40 years Working for Nature” anniversary of EUROPARC Federation with several events and publications

2014 Following an extensive member’s consultation, production of the new EUROPARC Strategy