Nature Regional Landscape Parks

Nature Park Weissensee, by Ewald Neffe

Europe’s 900 Nature Regional Landscape (NRL) Parks make up almost 8% of the total surface area of the EU+ Switzerland and Norway.

Nature Regional Landscape Parks

Naturpark Our (LUX), photo by Caroline Martin

Currently, there are almost 900 Nature Regional Landscape Parks in 22 European countries, which is about 8 % of the European Union (+NO and CH). Although they differ across countries, they share common principles in terms of purpose, mission and governance. They are important players when in comes to rural development, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity protection and nature education (among others). Overall, they have been designated, with the aim to integrate the protection of biodiversity with sustainable land use and socio-economic development in their territories.

The term, Regional Nature Landscape Parks contains a wide variety of large scale Protected Areas across Europe. These include, Nature Park, Natural Park, Regional Park, Landscape Park, Regional Nature Park, Protected Landscape Area or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Biodiversity loss and climate change are some of the great challenges of our time. At the same time, reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for unspoiled nature and landscapes is now more important than ever before. As Europe responds to pandemic and to the ecological crisis, the need to invest in an integrated network of protected areas – of which NRL Parks are a significant component – could not be more urgent.

Nature Landscape Parks are not only essential for the conservation of biodiversity and landscape, but they are also significant laboratories to promote a more socially inclusive, environmentally healthier and economically viable model for society.

From 2014 till 2017, the EUROPARC Federation, together with the Association of German Nature Parks, supported by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and with funding from the Federal Minsitry for the Enviornment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety carried out the project „Europe’s Nature, Regional and Landscape Parks“. It was aimed at strengthening European Regional Nature Parks by connecting park associations throughout Europe and promoting the parks’ value towards European decision makers. A working group of Nature-, Regional-, and Landscape-Park experts from seven European countries gave advice on the project implementation. Some of the outcomes of the project were:

Declaration on Climate Change

At the EUROPARC Conference 2023, the NRL Task Force presented their ‘Climate Declaration’. It states that, the vibrant network of Nature Regional Landscape Parks (NRL) is already implementing integrated, forward-looking measures for a sustainable Europe for nature and people.

The resources locked into Europe’s NRL Parks are a crucial component in ensuring a viable climate adaptation and mitigation response at all government levels.

However, on their journey to adaptation and mitigation, the NRL Parks are confronted with various challenges. For this reason, EUROPARC’s Nature Regional Landscape Parks Task Force developed Europe’s Nature Regional Landscape Parks Declaration on Climate Change. The Declaration was officially signed by the members of the EUROPARC Taskforce for Nature Regional Landscape at the annual EUROPARC Conference 2023 in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Other Parks and Protected Areas in Europe are invited to sign the Declaration as well.

Read the Declaration now!

Why Nature Regional Landscape Parks?

NRL Parks have the potential to prevent current rural abandonment, promote community involvement and support green jobs. These parks also create sustainable tourism destinations, and encourage sustainable agricultural practices and partnership between farmers and protected areas management. Additionally, they are excellent places for environmental education.

Nature Landscape Parks value nature as an essential asset for human health and well-being.

The work and achievements NRL Parks support the implementation of a multitude of European Policies and Directives as well as international commitments and sustainable development goals. They are local facilitators and convey European objectives to the people in their regions.

Nature Regional Landscape Parks – Where policy meets practice

NRL Parks are strong partners to address the Green Deal challenges at a local level, working on the implementation issues of Biodiversity Strategy 2030, 2030 Climate Target Plan, Farm to Fork Strategy and CAP and Forestry Strategy, as well as policies associated with health, sustainable tourism,  culture  and environmental education. However, these park remain an undervalued resource, to create Living Landscapes, that are Good for Nature and good for People.

Policies implemented by NRL Parks

NRL Parks and their policies (click on image to enlarge)

The Policy Paper launched by EUROPARC in October 2020 during our webinar for the EU Week of Regions and Cities, highlights the importance of Nature Regional Landscape Parks. The paper shows that it pays off to strengthen their position because they can help ensure a better implementation of far-sighted approaches for a sustainable rural Europe.

This paper collates NRL Parks experience from across Europe, and indicates the policy framework that they implement. It shows the potential locked in these parks to deliver more.

Download the policy paper “Nature Regional Landscape Parks – Where Policy meets Practice” here

They are Europe’s « sleeping giants ». It is time to wake up!

It is therefore of high importance, that local and regional authorities support the work of the Nature Regional and Landscape Parks financially, legally and politically so that their full potential to meet the needs of People and of Nature, especially in such challenging times, can be realised.

Click on the image to download the policy paper

Call to action

In order to fully utilize the opportunities of Nature Regional Landscape Parks in implementing an integrated, visionary approach for a sustainable rural Europe, EUROPARC calls upon the European Union and its Member States , local and regional authorities to be actively involved in the work of Nature Regional Landscape Parks with protection, valorisation and sustainable development of the natural and cultural heritage of their territories. EUROPARC Federation also seeks that EU institutions, better integrate Nature Regional Landscape Parks in EU policies, recognising their implementation role, to give them the support and access to tools and funding required to carry out efficiently all actions needed. Europe’s Nature Regional Landscape Parks are the “real” Green Deal, with the potential to be the catalyst of local solutions that will bring about the changes needed to create a more sustainable Europe

Interested in all the work NRL Parks do? Head over to our knowledge hub and read case studies from Nature Regional Landscape Parks in our Knowledge Hub!

Watch the webinar

The policy paper was launched during the webinar “The “Real” Green Deal”, in the framework of the 18th European Week of Cities and Regions. The online workshop focused on the vital role of Regional Natural Parks in a sustainably managed, Green Europe. You can watch it here: