The Basic Standards
The Basic Standards Criteria are the centre of the evaluation process. They consist of nine Quality Criteria and five Fields of Work and define a range of practical and measurable activities that must be fulfilled in order for transboundary cooperation to be achieved and recognised. They foster an ecosystem perspective; champion the establishment of green corridors between habitats; promote cross-cultural interaction; support the social and economic well-being of local communities; and encourage parks to raise political support and to promote peace.
The Criteria are divided into four groups, Primary Criteria, Secondary Criteria, Primary Fields of Work and Secondary Fields of Work, and focus on actions which enable transboundary cooperation to function well in practice. These include the development of a common vision for the future of the transboundary area; the creation of official cooperation agreements and joint work plans; cooperation between staff of the areas on a number of levels; and the development of joint projects and funding arrangements for the transboundary work.
The Primary Criteria are indicators based on a common vision and workplan for the protected areas as well as an official agreement between the parks and cooperation between staff from each area.
The Secondary Criteria look at the establishment of guiding principles for the cooperation; the exchange of data; foreign language communication; and the basis of joint financing.
The Primary Fields of Work are indicators related to nature conservation, the main objective of a protected area, and the Secondary Fields of Work are indicators related to education and communication; recreation and sustainable tourism; research and monitoring; and mutual understanding.
Ten out of the fourteen Basic Standards must be achieved before certification can be obtained: All four Primary Criteria, three out of five Secondary Criteria, the Primary Field of Work and two out of four Secondary Fields of Work must be fulfilled. The protected areas must also demonstrate how they involve local communities in the transboundary cooperation and how the socio-cultural differences of the cooperating parties are acknowledged and respected.
If the standards are achieved they will secure long-term, quality transboundary cooperation between the parks involved. One transboundary park stated: “The evaluation process has greatly benefited our cooperation […]. The evaluation system itself is an invaluable tool for assessing the current state of cooperation, its strengths and weaknesses and, moreover, for clearly identifying the actions required to strengthen cooperation and to find a sound way forward”.