EUROPARC Youth Manifesto launched at EUROPARC Conference 2018!

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The EUROPARC Youth Manifesto was launched today (21 September ) to over 400 delegates at  EUROPARC Conference 2018, in Aviemore – Cairngorms National Park. 

Young people are keen to be involved in the decision making processes when it comes to sustaining the rural landscape. All summer young people from across Europe have been working together to put together their vision on the most important aspects of living, learning and working in protected areas and rural communities and this Manifesto offers practical ways for change.

Young people just want to be heard and entrusted to help protect and conserve their local environments.

explained Laura Peters, the Youth Representative on the EUROPARC Council, adding, “we want to be involved in helping to make thriving, sustainable communities with training and job opportunities so that we can remain in our local areas and not lose touch with our cultural heritage. This Manifesto must be the catalyst to making that happen in Scotland and across Europe”

Grant Moir CEO of the Cairngorms National Park Authority agrees, “Young people are the future of the national parks and protected areas we have in Europe; they are the decision-makers of tomorrow. This Manifesto is a both a challenge and a source of inspiration for decision makers in protected areas and rural communities to find ways to engage with their local youth and listen to their ideas.”

The EUROPARC Youth Manifesto

In spring 2018 a group of youth from across seven countries gathered to create the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto, a document that shall draw the attention of Protected Areas, environmental organisations and rural communities to the challenges of their youth  – inspiring them to meaningfully engage with young people in their area for tackling those challenges together.

The EUROPARC Youth Manifesto points out the main challenges young people face living, learning and working in rural communities and Protected Areas, but above all aims to inspire and encourage decision-makers, public authorities and managers to take the first step towards practical involvement of young people. The youth is ready to do their bit, keen to engage in exchange to learn and work for in partnership with those governing our rural and Protected Areas:

Get inspired by the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto…

Click on the image to download the English Version of the Youth Manifesto

Read more about the Youth Manifesto at

This trans-national partnership project has been led by the Cairngorms National Park Authority with project partners: EUROPARC Federation, Cairngorms Trust, Rieskas LEADER Finland, Keskipiste LEADER, Ravakka LEADER, Scottish Natural Heritage and Young Scot.

Next EUROPARC Webinar: Accessibility and inclusion in Protected Areas

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Contact with nature and enjoyment of the outdoors should be accessible experiences to every person. Protected Areas administrations play a fundamental role in providing opportunities to people with physical or intellectual disabilities, by creating accessible infrastructure for visitors and inclusive programmes and activities.

  • 11th October 2018, 11:00 CEST (Central Europe Summer Time)
  • Register here

Accessibility and inclusion in Protected Areas

From trail design to volunteering programmes

Several European Protected Areas are improving accessibility for visitors with reduced mobility, especially regarding accessible trail planning and design and barrier-free visitor centres, birdwatching hides or viewpoints. In some parks, there are also joelettes and other soft-mobility solutions available for visitors, and often, too, signage and communication tools are adapted to visually handicapped visitors or guests that are hindered by long, complicated texts.

Simultaneously, Parks strive for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Park’s daily activities. Frequently, handicapped people are asked for technical advice on the planning of trails and infrastructure, and many have the opportunity to join special volunteering programmes for conservation work, supporting activities such as mowing meadows or repairing paths. In these cases, a strong cooperation between Park administrations and local social institutions or NGOs is fundamental for the implementation of volunteering programmes. By doing so, Parks not only have the chance to bring people closer to nature – they can provide life-changing experiences in their community, both for visitors and for the Park staff. 

 The secret of success lies in the attention you pay to each and every service you provide,


Click on the image to download the full Manual

is an important recommendation from the manual “Planning Accessible Experiences of Nature”, produced by EUROPARC Germany. Although many parks might consider an expensive effort, according to EUROPARC Germany there are many ways, often easy and affordable, to improve the experience of disabled visitors. Observation and personal contact with visitors are fundamental, but also building up connections with local institutions, and exchanging experiences with other Parks, will certainly help you find new ways to improve accessibility and inclusion in your Park.

In this EUROPARC Webinar…

Anne Schierenberg and Kerstin Emonds from EUROPARC Germany will introduce us the manual “Planning Accessible Experiences of Nature”, and give us some hints on what you can do in your Park.

Our invited case study presenter from Germany will share examples of trail design and how they are developing volunteer programmes. Our invited guest from England will focus on the human dimension, explaining how the Park is working with long-term disabled volunteers and with a local senior residence, and also how they are building the capacity of the Park staff to work with volunteers with mental health issues.

Anne Schierenberg is the Head of Civil Engagement with EUROPARC Germany since 2003. Anne studied landscape planning at the Technical University of Berlin, graduating with a degree in engineering, and completed a voluntary ecological year at BUND Pfullendorf/Baden-Württemberg.

Kerstin Emonds is Officer for Accessibility and Inclusion with EUROPARC Germany since 2009. Kerstin also studied landscape planning at the Technical University of Berlin and after her qualification in regional management, she worked in this field for many years.

Case Study 1

 Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal Nature Park: How we work together with people with disabilities

By Johannes Hager, Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal Nature Park, Germany

accessibility, inclusion

Tourist in the special trail for blind visitors at the Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal Nature Park, Germany – Photo by Uwe Mueller

The Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal Nature Park, located in the centre of Germany, promotes inclusion of people with disabilities in various manners. In the outdoor facilities of the information centre “Alter Wasserturm”, there is a path especially adapted for blind visitors, developed in cooperation with a regional NGO for visually handicapped people. In  addition, the Park administration is currently evaluating and optimising their cycling routes in cooperation with a local handbike-user. The Park is also offering opportunities for volunteers with intellectual disability, to support the Park in practical conservation work.

Dr. Johannes Hager is the Director of the Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal Nature Park since 1992. Dr. Johannes Hager is Biologist with PhD in Ecology, having studied in Bonn, Innsbruck (Austria), Crete (Greece) and Bielefeld (Germany). Formerly, he worked as university assistant in Bielefeld, and as a consultant in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) in several projects related to wildlife and biodiversity protection.

Case Study 2

The Human Element – the involvement of people with disabilities in volunteering with the North York Moors National Park

By Ryan Chenery, North York Moors National Park, United Kingdom

accessibility, inclusion

Paul Hepworth is one of the volunteers who works in the Volunteering Administration department of the North York Moors National Park (UK). Paul gave an interview in which he talks about how much volunteering has changed him. Paul is physically disabled (spinal injury) and has kidney disease and therefore undergoes dialysis twice a week. Paul has been with the National Park for 1 year and volunteers 3 days a week every week!

The motivation of the North York Moors National Park to work with people with disabilities stems from one of their ten National Park Values – Promoting opportunities for everyone to get involved with the National Park. Indeed, the Park has a long history of working with volunteers with disabilities who contribute to both office and field work. Over the years, people have volunteered for a whole variety of reasons, but is becoming more common that people are volunteering due to health – including mental health. A number of Park staff said that volunteers want to talk about their mental health issues, but as staff felt ill-equipped to deal with this, the Park has trained 15 staff in mental health first aid this year, with a further 20 planned for September.

In addition to practical work out in the Park, the North York Moors is also engaging with disabled persons within their offices. They have 2 volunteers with disabilities participating in administrative roles in the Volunteering and IT Teams, who are both undertaking valuable work – and the opportunities have been created specifically to cater for their particular disabilities.

Ryan Chenery is the Volunteers Officer of the North York Moors National Park. Original from Barbados, Ryan moved to England in 2014 to work for RSPB and since 2017 he is responsible for overseeing the volunteer journey of every new Park volunteer – from recruitment and interview, to induction and training. Ryan also leads on the development and upskilling of volunteers and community involvement in volunteering across the National Park.

How to join?

Webinars are open not only to EUROPARC members – but to everyone with an interest in Protected Areas. Participation is free but registration is necessary.

You can join in from anywhere: you will just need a device with internet connection. EUROPARC webinars are held in English and last around 1:15 min. Participants have the chance to direct their questions to the invited speakers during the final discussion.

Previous EUROPARC Webinars

Visit this page to learn about the previous Webinars and download the presentations and webinar recordings.

Nature is the answer: IUCN’s manual on ecosystem services

IUCN Manual "Tools for measuring, modeling, and valuing ecosystem services: guidance for Key Biodiversity Areas, Natural World Heritage Sites, and Protected Areas", 2018

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Guidance for good nature questions

IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) has recently published the manual “Tools for measuring, modeling, and valuing ecosystem services: guidance for Key Biodiversity Areas, Natural World Heritage Sites, and Protected Areas“.

Over 20 international experts wrote the report focusing on the benefits that nature provides to people and the everyday life global challenges that are in the planet; such as fight the climate change and create a sustainable development. This guidance is provided within a framework of respecting and taking into consideration their underlying biodiversity importance and/or conservation objectives, and indeed, is relevant for site conservation efforts in general.

Click on the image to download the Manual

Nature is connected to all of us

Ecosystem services include

  • provisioning services such as firewood, fisheries, and raw materials;
  • regulating services such as climate regulation, regulation of water flows, and water purification;
  • and cultural services such as recreation, scenic values, spiritual values, or values that are important
    for cultural heritage or identity.
According to Elena Osipova, from the IUCN’s World Heritage Programme,
“Natural World Heritage sites, Key Biodiversity Areas and protected areas are not only crucial for conserving biodiversity, they also provide a range of benefits and ecosystem services that support human well-being…Identifying and measuring these services can help better understand how people benefit from these places, and that understanding can then be integrated into management and decision-making processes”

Regional Reserve Callora River (Italy)

Decision free “Decision trees”

Selecting the right tool to be applied in a specific context with given resource constraints can be a challenging task, hence, the new IUCN manual helps to identify an appropriate tool through a set of “decision trees”, which are also available online in an interactive format.

Is organised as follows:

1. Introduce ecosystem services Learn more about the ecosystem services concept and assessments

2. Assess ecosystem services Identify ecosystem services, their condition, importance and trends

3. Map ecosystem services Identify the location and spatial extent of an area that provides ecosystem services and where beneficiaries are located.

4. Economic valuation of ecosystem services Calculate or estimate the monetary value of ecosystem services

The report is part of the IUCN-WPCA Best Practice Guidelines series. It has been prepared by the Ecosystem Services and Key Biodiversity Areas expert working group supported by Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP), IUCN’s World Heritage Programme and the IUCN-WCPA Natural Solutions Specialist Group,  with funding and in-kind contributions provided by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), Canadian Council on Ecological Areas (CCEA), Center for Biodiversity Outcomes at Arizona State University, Conservation International, SNAPP, and Wildlife Conservation Society.

Establishing a Marine Protected Area in 3 steps

Ballan Wrasse, Arran Coast - photo by Howard Wood

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Marine ecosystems are seriously threatened and the European Commission is calling Member States to better protect their seas. Establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is a key conservation measure, to safeguard marine ecosystems and species. Who should be involved in the protection of our Seas? Local communities have a role to play? In this article issued by Howard Wood, we bring you an interesting story from Scotland: the creation of the first Scottish community-led Marine Reserve.

A small Scottish island community leads the way to protect and recover our seas

article issued by Howard Wood

Diving for 10 years with my friend Don around the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde (3700 sq. km of sea) we saw with our own eyes a very rapid decline is marine life. For decades overfishing and poor fisheries management have been the norm. Even the 3m/5k offshore protection from bottom towed trawls was removed in 1984, due to industry pressure.

Rays, assorted flat fish, anglerfish, cod and pollack decreased and then disappeared. In 20 years, the commercial fishing industry lost 70% of its jobs in the Clyde area. With so few fish to catch, recreational sea anglers (RSA) gave up. The commercial fishers, encouraged by Government, turned to scraping prawns out of the mud and dredging up scallops from sand and gravel seabeds.

Reports were written and pressure was put on Government by RSA, marine tourism and environmentalists, but all were ignored by Government who viewed the seas as a resource just for the benefit of commercial fishermen. There was no recognised official route to implement a marine reserve but it was clear to us that was what needed to happen if there was to be any recovery. So what were the 3 major steps we took?

Establishing a Marine Protected Area in 3 steps:

1st Step – Engage your community

With my dive buddy Don MacNeish, we researched and understand the heart of the problem was regulatory capture of Government by just one section of the fishing industry (the ones using the most destructive fishing gear).

To save our seas, we needed to “dive” into politics, to meet fishermen leaders and encourage a longer term vision.

It was obvious that no one was going to take much notice of us unless we had the widespread support of our island community. So we founded COAST, The Community of Arran Seabed Trust.

We held public meetings, gave presentations to dozens of local organisations and collected photos of fishermen with huge fish -from just a decade before. We needed to show what was missing. With growing public support, politicians slowly started to help COAST and write letters on our behalf, but still Government officials continued as if our seas were solely for the benefit of the remaining commercial fishermen.

2nd step – Challenge the status quo and find joint solutions

After 3 years, numerous meetings, enquiries by cross party parliamentary committees, government officials, fishing industry leaders and COAST were given 6 months to find an agreed solution. Progress was slow, 6 months became 2 years and even then, fisheries leaders threatened to walk away at the last minute unless the agreed small 2.67 sq. km NoTakeZone was halved in size. We held our ground and on the 20th September 2008, the first UK community led Marine Reserve was designated by the Scottish Parliament.

However, the overriding issue was still unresolved – on whose behalf should our government be managing the sea?

For a small island community organisation, we were fortunate to be meeting senior Government officials and regularly challenged them on just who “owns” Scotland’s seas. After months of officials saying “It’s solely a matter between ourselves and commercial fishermen”

finally the Scottish government accepted that Scotland’s seas were a public asset and a common resource.

Two years later the Scottish parliament passed the Marine Act, which included the set up of a network of Marine Protected Areas. For its first 20 years COAST was run by volunteers, often with no funding. In, 2011, COAST gained funding for its first paid member of staff. Three years later South Arran Marine Protected Area was 100 times larger than the original NoTakeZone and covering 280

3rd   Step Monitor and analyse effects

The Scottish government did the initial baseline surveys of the NoTakeZone but since 2010 COAST has raised funds to monitor, working mainly with University of York PhD & MSc researchers. Nearly 30 research papers have been produced.  For such a small area the original NoTakeZone, has, over 9 years, rejuvenated scallop and lobster stocks and doubled the biodiversity of the seabed providing nursery areas for fish.

The people of Arran are extremely proud of their Community Marine Reserve and while Marine Scotland have the legal duty to protect the area, they are supported by dozens of local people.

The next step. Share the success

While COAST have been at the forefront over the past 25 years  they have now been joined by 9 other marine communities all campaigning and wanting to be involved in the management of THEIR seas.

Howard Wood at the Goldman Award Ceremony

Howard Wood is co-founder and chair of COAST (Community of Arran Seabed Trust) and also founder and director of SIFT. His passion for diving around the Isle of Arran in Scotland since 1974  led him to become a marine environmental campaigner. In 2015 he was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for Europe and for his services to the marine environment an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II.