From left to right: Roger de Freitas, Paulo Castro, Enzo Lavarra, Nele Sober, Ignace Schops, LauraPeters, Pete Rawcliffe, Michael Hosek, Olaf Holm

The EUROPARC Council is elected every three years by the EUROPARC Federation’s General Assembly composed of our membership. Apart from the 6 members of Council and President directly elected by members, the Council invites up to 5 co-opted members who have an advisory role within the Council.

The new EUROPARC Council and President were elected at the General Assembly of the annual EUROPARC Conference 2017, hosted by ADRIMAG in the Magic Mountains Region, Sao Pedro do Sul, Portugal.

EUROPARC Council Members 2017-2021:

EUROPARC Council Meeting in Barcelona, Collserola Nature Park, February 2019

EUROPARC President

Ignace Schops 

Ignace Schops

(BE), Languages: Flemish, English, French, German

For more than 20 years Ignace is employed in the environmental world. He is trained as a landscape expert and herpetologist and was formerly regional director of Natuurpunt, the largest nature conservation organization in Belgium. With his NGO RLKM, they established the (Re)connection Model; the first and only national park in Belgium – the Hoge Kempen National Park; the RiverPark Maas-valley and the BorderPark Kempen~Broek. Since 2008 he was awarded several times, even at the highest international level.

Elected members of the Council

Nele Sober 

Nele Sober

(EE), Languages: Estonian, English

Nele is a Nature education specialist from Estonia, who has worked in different sectors (private, public and non-governmental) before her heart surrendered to nature conservation. The experiences in the different sectors and the marketing and international business background, gave her a broader view of organizational management and a deep insight into how people think. She has 11-years of experience in leading and managing NGOs. Also, she has a long experience in being in governance bodies of two non-governmental organisations – one operating in nature tourism, another in rural tourism and LEADER activities.

Michael Hošek

Michael Hošek

(CZ), Languages: Czech, English, Russian

Michael is the Vice-President of the EUROPARC Federation since 2014. He holds an M.Sc in Landscape Ecology and Management and has a long experience with the implementation of the EU Nature Directives in Czech Republic as well as in the EU candidate countries. In between 2015-2013, he served as a Deputy Director at the Czech Nature Conservation Agency, and in 2013-2014 as Director General for the Nature Conservation at the Czech Ministry of Environment. Currently, he works for the Krkonose Mts. National Park as well as for his consultancy company on the natural resources use. He is also a Council member of IUCN.

Paulo Castro 

Paulo Castro

(PT), Languages: Portuguese, English, Italian, Spanish, French

For the last 30 years Paulo has mainly worked in mountain rural areas with participatory methodologies trying to put sustainable development into the agenda of the other stakeholders.

In the last 20 years, he has been professionally involved in the environment and nature conservation. For him, Nature Conservation is a broader issue that involves everyone.

Presently he is an elected Council member and also the Treasurer of the Federation, as well as the person in charge of the theme of Sustainable Tourism – in particular – the European Charter.

Olaf Holm

Olaf Holm

(FR), Languages: French, German, English

„La vie, c’est comme une bicyclette, il faut avancer pour ne pas perdre l’équilibre“. – Albert Einstein

Since the moment that Olaf decided to study geography and biology, he also decided to follow this philosophy of Albert Einstein. For him, it means that it is necessary to learn every day, and find solutions for new challenges. He believes that we need to exchange and to try new experiences to move forward. Therefore, for him, exchanging knowledge, experiences and viewpoints on European and international level is the backbone for building a common future for our protected areas where people and nature live together.

Peter Rawcliffe

Pete Rawcliffe

(UK), Languages: English

Pete has been working for Scottish Natural Heritage – the national conservation agency – since 1994 and he is currently managing one of their national units. He is based in Battleby, near Perth. His Unit has over 30 staff based across Scotland and works on the people and nature related aspects of SNH’s remit.

He has had led a variety of work in SNH, including the development and implementation of proposals for Scotland’s National Parks; the development of SNH’s policies on landscape, enjoying the outdoors, parks and reserves and health.  He currently leads SNH’s work on the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, including implementation of the Scottish route map to 2020.

His background comprises a mixture of academic study and research in the environmental and political sciences, consultancy work on planning, transport and conservation policy, and environmental education.

Enzo Lavarra 

Enzo Lavarra

(IT), Languages: Italian, English

Enozo’s lifelong interest: Conservation of natural habitats and species of flora and fauna through the involvement of local communities and socio-economic and productive tissue. He brings this forth as President of Dune Costiere Park, where they achieved the goal of biodiversity through compatible economic activities.

Youth representative

Laura Peters

Laura Peters (NL)

Laura is the Youth Representative on the EUROPARC Council. She has been interested in nature and wildlife ever since she was young and she got involved with the EUROPARC Junior Ranger Programme when she turned 13 years old. After the Junior Ranger Programme, she smoothly entered into the Youth+ programme and then got elected for the position. She is a full-time biology student and she is doing her second Masters at the moment at the University of Oxford, called ‘Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management’.

Co-opted members

FEDENATUR representative: Marià Martí (ES)

Marià Martí

Marià is managing director of the Collserola Natural Park (Barcelona), and the former secretary general of Fedenatur. He currently chairs the “Peri-urban Commission” within EF and his position on the Council is to contribute to EF’s objectives from a vision of protecting and preserving peri-urban natural and rural spaces as an essential element of the green infrastructure of cities.

Languages: Spanish, Catalan, French, English (with some dificulties), Italian (capisco molto bene ma parlo meno)

Janet Hunter

Janet is government appointed member of the Cairngorms National Park Authority Board and sits on various committees including Communications, Audit and Risk and Inclusive Cairngorms. She has a degree in Geography from Oxford University and a Masters in Rural Resources planning. She has a very extensive knowledge of the unique nature of the National Park as a skier and mountaineer as well as being a Director of the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland. She is involved in encouraging entrepreneurial growth in small  rural communities in areas such as Hydro, sustainable tourism and outdoor activities. She has developed communication strategies for a range of public and private sector organisations. Janet has extensive knowledge of the ski industry in Scotland and Europe and speaks, apart from English, French, Italian and German.

Eick Von Ruschkowski

Eick Von Ruschkowski

Since March of 2017, Eick has been director of the Alfred Toepfer Academy for Nature Conservation, an entity that is dedicated to the training of conservation and wildlife management professionals.

Previously, he was the head of the department of nature conservation and environmental policy at NABU (Bird Life) Germany in Berlin between 2013 and 2017. Prior to that, he was a research assistant at Leibniz University of Hannover (LUH) with duties in research and teaching. He obtained my PhD in environmental planning from LUH in 2009 on local resistance to protected areas.

Previously to his NABU employment, he has served there in various voluntary executive board positions. Today, he remains the speaker for the permanent working group on large protected areas. He is also a member of the IUCN’s WCPA.

Sections representative: Marta Múgica (ES)

Marta holds a PhD in Ecology. Since 1994 she has worked at EUROPARC-Spain where she has coordinated programmes aimed at strengthening this professional forum. Since 2010 she is also director of the Fernando González Bernáldez Foundation.

She has coordinated EUROPARC-Spain’s strategic documents, the latest being the “Society and Protected Areas for Human Well-being Programme”, a bid to broaden partnerships to improve the role of protected areas for human well-being. She was an associate professor at the university, and is a lecturer and member of the Board of the Master in Natural Protected Areas managed by the Fernando González Bernáldez Foundation.

She is the mother of two children and studies Spanish guitar at her local music school. She speaks Spanish and English.

Internal auditor

Roger de Freitas (UK)