ECST & Star Award Ceremony 2022 – meet the new Parks and Businesses!

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On the second of December 2022, EUROPARC was able to honour the Protected Areas, businesses and tour operators that are creating Sustainable Tourism at the ECST and Star Award Ceremony in Brussels.

About the event

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, EUROPARC was able to recognise all those that successfully applied to the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (ECST) at the European Parliament. We were kindly hosted by Member of Parliament Marie Toussaint. What made it even more special, is that we also awarded our Star Awards to sustainable businesses working in and around Protected Areas! This award champions and acknowledges the effort and investments made by tourism businesses working with our Sustainable Destinations across Europe.

Furthermore, it was an excellent opportunity to celebrate the ECST’s 20 year anniversary, which was in 2021.

In 20 years, the ECST has grown to be one of the biggest and most established sustainble tourism ‘families’ worldwide.

Says Teresa Pastor, EUROPARC’s Sustainable Tourism manager, overseeing the programme. Now, keep on reading to get to know all the winners…

Six new Parks join the ECST!

Overall, 48 Parks were awarded during a full day ceremony! This included all those, that we were unable to award in 2020 and 2021. We are proud to say that this network is the biggest of its kind worldwide.

The implementation of the Charter is an opportunity to work side-by-side with local business partners and ensure that tourism can bring social and economic benefits to the local community.

The key principles of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas comprise the protection of natural and cultural heritage, participation by all stakeholders and effective partnership working. It ensures Parks are planning to prepare and implement a sustainable tourism strategy, to realize the environmental, social and economic benefits of everyone working more sustainably.

All this ensures that we are creating tourism that is Good for Nature & Good for People.

All Parks that are awarded with the ECST will have gone through an extensive verification process, that includes visits of verifiers to the Park. The 2022 Awardees are:

Kefalonia-Ithaka Geopark / Mt. Aenos National Park

Melissani Cave Geosite, NECCA, Haris Andronos

The Park is both a Geopark, a Dark Sky Park and a National Park, hence, the protection of its natural values is of great importance. Our verifiers were especially positive about the tourism surrounding bird watching in the park, as well as the volunteer activities organised.

Learn more about the Park here.

Gran Paradiso National Park

Gran Paradiso PNGP, Luca Giordano, Alberto Olivero

Amongst the many things the Park does to promote sustainable tourism, the quality label is especially inspirational. The National Park assigns this to local tourism, crafts and food operators that produce their products with a high regard to sustainability and quality. You can learn more about the Park and this label here.

Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli Regional Park

Lame di Fuori, Parco Regionale Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli, Valter Bernardeschi

The great visitor centres in the Park, the excellent relationships with the guides and the agricultural products coming from the Park are just some of the reasons this Italian Park was able to join the ECST Network! You can learn more about the Park here.

Sirente Velino Nature Regional Park

Laghetto del sirente, M. Anselmi

This Park in Italy is worth a sustainable visit! The Park has a well-developed plan for cyclotourism, has created their own “Green Community” and organises an exhibition market of typical, regional products. Learn more about the Park here.

Els Ports Nature Park

Montsagres, Parc Natural dels Ports, Bruno Duran

This Nature Park is located in the Catalan region of Spain. In Catalonia, there is a firm commitment to the ECST – and it shows! Els Ports has an exhaustive monitoring system, as well as regulation commissions for different outdoor activities like climbing and canyoning. Learn more about the Park here.

Sierra de Santo Domingo Protected Landscape

Sant Domingo, Félix Compaired

This Protected Area was declared at the initiative and request of local councils and communities! As such, the stakeholder engagement is incredibly strong. From neigborhoud associations, to collaborations between different county entities.

Re-awarded Parks

The ECST verifiers were also busy in the past year to re-evaluate Parks across Europe. We are incredibly happy to announce the following Parks have successfully prolonged their application:

  • Chelmos Vouraikos National Park (GR)
  • Gargano National Park (IT)
  • Cilento National Park (IT)
  • Colli Euganei Regional Park (IT)
  • Terras do Lince (PT)
  • Sierra Espuña Regional Park (ES)
  • Delta de l’Ebre Nature Park (ES)
  • Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park (ES)
  • Kullaberg Nature Reserve (SE)

EUROPARC congratulates the Parks, old and new, that are succesfully implementing the ECST. All participating Parks, businnesses and tour operators have made this programme into the strong network it is today.

Star Awards

With the Star Awards, we honour those businesses that actively create sustainable offers for tourists. This is the second edition of this award, you can learn more about the 2019 winners here.

Business can apply in 4 categories:

  • Contribution to Conservation
  • Reducing impact on the Environment
  • Building my Community
  • Communication the values of my Park and my Business

All categories include some questions regarding “Contribution to Conservation“, as it is a fundamental principle of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism. All applications were then considered by an international jury, made up of Sustainable Tourism experts. Get to know the winners!

Trescàlia (ES) – Contribution to conservation

Butterfly monitoring activities organised by Trescalia

Trescàlia provides nature and cultural tours. The company has sustainability at their core. They have been part of the permanent Forum for Sustainable Tourism “Turisme Garrotxa” in the La Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa Nature Park, since its beginnings in 2013. Within the forum, they help promote the “Garrotxa Experience Catalogue” for tourism agencies. This catalogue contains ecotourism proposals, with all ECST accredited companies in the area!

The International Jury awarded the incoming tourism agency Trescàlia in the Contribution to Conservation Category for their very positive commitment to raising environmental awareness amongst tourists and visitors.

Hotel Gran Rey (ES) – Reducing impacts on the environment

Hotel Gran Rey offers a sustainable place to stay, for all those that want to enjoy a natural holiday.

View from the Hotel Gran Rey.

The hotel was created with the philosophy of integrating into the environment. It is located in a landscape formed by steep cliffs, palm groves, springs, and farmhouses. It belongs to the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in La Gomera since 2011, and as such, works closely together with the Garajonay National Park.

The International Jury awarded the Hotel Gran Rey from La Gomera, because they have done an excellent and well-documented job implementing different measures to reduce water and electricity consumption, recycle and reduce packaging.

Explore Iberia (PT) – Building my community

Cultural activities from Explore Iberia.

Explore Iberia is a small independent tour operator that is invested in providing visitors with an authentic experience in Northern Portugal and Galicia. When creating their activities, the team always makes sure to add a “cultural discovery moment”, where interpretation and experiencing the local culture play a key role. From corn bread workshops, to seaweed harvest or traditional pottery painting, visitors can experience the authentic culture of the region, whilst enjoying local food and drinks.

The International Jury awarded the tourism agency and activities provider Explore Iberia for their work as promoters of a consortium of local business.

Pensión Candelaria (ES) – Communicating the values of my Park and Business

Plantation activities from Pension Candelaria.

Our second winner from the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in La Gomera: Pensión Candelaria! The staff puts great care into promoting the natural values of the area to their visitors, particular to German tourists. However, the Pensión Candelaria does not just tell the story of the area, they also help maintain it! The staff are active collaborators in the Plántate project. This participatory project promotes the reforestation of thermophilic forests in La Gomera.

The International Jury awarded the accommodation Pensión Candelaria from La Gomera because, despite being a small company, they are very active. They lead, cooperate and communicate about actions and projects linked to environmental problems on the island – fires, reforestation, carbon footprint compensation or beach cleaning.

Projecte Sèpia (ES) – Innovation (special award)

Conservation meassures taken by Projecte Sepia

The PROJECTE SEPIA was born with the aim of improving the breeding conditions of cephalopods and repopulating the waters of the Empordà, Spain. Together with local, artisanal fishermen, the project wants to preserve traditional fishing and promote sustainable practices.

The International Jury decided to create a special award on Innovation to acknowledge the originality of this conservation project and the strong cooperation with fishermen, schools and tourist business.

Hotel Ristorante La Pieja (IT) – Global approach to sustainablity (overall winner)

The hotel and restaurant La Pieja wants to create an “Economy of well-being” centred around

Trail cleaning done by La Pieja

enjoyment and conservation of nature in the area of the Abruzzo National Park. To make that goal a reality, they have created an integrated offer for tourists, that includes nature, culture and outdoor activities. All of this is done in close cooperation with other local operators, guides, and museums. La Pieja regularly meets with the Abruzzo Park Authority and local producers to create common objectives and commitments that ensure adherence to ecological standards.

The International Jury decided to award the Hotel Ristorante La Pieja as the overall winner of the Star Awards 2021-2022 edition for their comprehensive approach to sustainability. Hotel Ristorante La Pieja has been the only one to candidate to all four categories with consistently strong performance across all four.

EUROPARC Congratulates these businesses for leading the way on Sustainable Tourism. Only in working together, can we create tourism that is Good for Nature and Good for People!

Over the coming weeks, we will present the Star Award winners in more detail, with a dedicated article for each.

Webinar: Ways to Wellbeing in Nature

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We invite you to the next EUROPARC webinar “Ways to Wellbeing in Nature – Activating Parks and Protected Areas as natural health centres”.

  • 14.12.2022
  • 10:00 CET
  • Participation is free, but registration is needed here

About this webinar

Scientific evidence indicates that people’s health and happiness increase when they are connected with nature. Yet we are experiencing tangible biodiversity loss associated with removal of places for nature being replaced by buildings, industry, roads and other infrastructure, not to mention the challenges of climate change.

Access to nature is essential for human health and Covid-19 lockdowns have unveiled how important green areas are for our mental and physical well-being.

Healthy Parks Healthy People is the Europe-wide programme developed by EUROPARC Federation to supports parks and Protected Areas at the national, regional and local level to deliver better outcomes for the health of people and nature.

In this webinar, we will dive into experiences from Parks and Protected Areas in England and Germany as natural health centres focusing primarily on mental health. We will look at the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ approach to positive mental health and wellbeing in nature and show how the HPHPe toolkit can be a compass to support current and future planning and programme implementation of these and similar initiatives.

The programme

1. Setting the scene – Peter Rawcliffe, EUROPARC Federation Council
Welcome and introduction to the webinar
Five Ways to Wellbeing in nature

2. Case Studies

Connecting communities with nature to help support mental health through Green Social Prescribing – Peak District National Park Authority, England – Jo Hanney, Ranger

Green Care – Nature and Mental Health – Berchtesgadener Land Biosphere Region, Germany – Meike Krebs-Fehrmann, Scientific Officer

3. Using the HPHPe Toolkit to realise health projects – Bridget Finton, NatureScot

4. Final questions and conclusions – Peter Rawcliffe, EUROPARC Federation Council

Our speakers

Peter Rawcliffe – Head of People and Places Activity in NatureScot, and Chair of EUROPARC Federation’s Health and Protected Areas Commission

Peter Rawcliffe is both EUROPARC Federation Council Member and Vice-President. Additionally, he is a member of the IUCN specialist group on health and wellbeing and part of the current working group on COVID19 and Protected Areas. He has over 25 years of work experience and comes from a background of academic qualifications in the environmental and political sciences (BSc and PhD), consultancy work on planning, transport and conservation policy, and environmental education.

Jo Hanney – Learning and Discovery Ranger, Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA)

Jo Hanney has over 20 years’ experience of creating and delivering engagement opportunities for the PDNPA. She is a skilled facilitator with experience of connecting with a wide range of audiences. She currently leads on the delivery of the “Health and Wellbeing” strand of the PDNPA’s Diverse Audience Plan (2020-2024); one of the outcomes of this is “A National Park loved and supported by diverse audiences”. She is happiest when she is out and about in nature in the Peak District National Park introducing this protected landscape to new audiences.

Meike Krebs-Fehrmann, Scientific Officer – “Green Care – Nature and Mental Health”, Biosphere Region Berchtesgadener Land
Educator, cultural anthropologist (M.A.) and environmental manager Meike Krebs-Fehrmann has been working for the Biosphere Region Berchtesgadener Land, branch office of the Government of Upper Bavaria, since 2015. Her focus is on nature and mental health as well as education for sustainable development. Her professional career led her from working with people with dementia in inpatient care for the elderly, to garden therapy and nature experience education, and finally to her heart’s project “Green Care – Nature and Mental Health”.
Bridget Finton, People & Places Activity Team – NatureScot and member of EUROPARC Federation’s Health and Protected Areas commission
With an extensive background in outdoor access and recreation, she is passionate about encouraging more people to feel the benefits. Having been involved in a range of policy areas including countryside rangers, access rights and responsibilities and off-road cycling, she now mainly works on NatureScot’s health agenda and supports Scotland’s pilot Green Health Partnerships. A keen outdoor enthusiast, she enjoys sea kayaking, cycling and hill walking.

Register now!

New podcast: The EUROPARC Youth Manifesto

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EUROPARC Podcast: Voices from the Parks brings inspiring stories from across the network when you’re on the go. In this episode we share the story of the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto as we did for the EU’s 4th Public Participation and Deliberative Democracy Festival.

What are we talking about?

In the European Year of Youth, the EU held its 4th Public Participation and Deliberative Democracy Festival, with a focus on youth involved in democratic decision-making processes. EUROPARC engaged with this festival by showcasing the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto.

In this episode, you will learn how EUROPARC Federation collaborates with youth to share their visions and voices with their communities and help them create a better future. The Manifesto is one of the sources of ideas and inspiration for decision-makers in Protected Areas and rural communities to ensure the involvement and empowerment of young people. Its implementation has started in at least 4 countries and is a top priority for EUROPARC.

In other words, loads of inspiration to be found in our new episode! You can listen to it here, or find our podcasts on channel and all major podcast platforms!

Call for tenders for evaluation of stakeholder engagement

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Within the EU Horizon project NaturaConnect, we are looking for an external service to produce an independent evaluation of the stakeholder engagement of the project.

NaturaConnect (Project: 101060429 (HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01)) is a four-year project running from July 2022-August 2026. Together with key stakeholders, NaturaConnect will co-develop knowledge, tools and capacity building programmes to support Member States in implementing an ecologically representative, resilient and well-connected trans-European nature network (TEN-N) that builds on the existing network of protected areas. The project includes an integrated stakeholder engagement process, which is underpinned by theory and practice addressed in the BiodivERsA Stakeholder Engagement Handbook (Durham et al. 2004) and which follows approaches of appreciative inquiry.

Purpose of the tender

The main output of this consultancy is an assessment of the stakeholder engagement events of the project, which will be conducted by different project partners.

The contractor shall provide a mid-term review of the stakeholder engagement events and a final report. Specifically, the contract requirements are to:

  1. Recommend and provide advice on feedback methods to be used by project partners for their specific types of engagement events (face to face meetings, workshops, online workshops etc.) in various contexts and countries. The contractor shall ensure a systematic collection of information along the different project partners. The collected information will be shared with the contractor for further analysis and the overall evaluation.
  1. Collect and analyse feedback from participants of events and stakeholders in the form of qualitative interviews, surveys or any other suitable innovative forms for data and information collection. The contractor will be responsible to design and conduct interviews with key stakeholders and to analyse the results.

Based on this, an overall evaluation (mid-term review and final review) shall be developed. The mid-term review is an important deliverable in January 2024 and shall include recommendations for the following stakeholder engagement taking place until the end of the project (2026).

As part of the application, the contractor is asked to provide a preliminary evaluation plan, which shall be further developed during the first month of the contract. Please consider the tender specifications carefully.

The deadline for applications is the 6th of December 2022, 23.59 CET.

Successful candidates will be invited for an interview between the 12-16th of December.  The contract will be awarded not later than 19th of December with contract starting date on the 5th of January 2023.

Please find the tender specifications by clicking below

NC_call for consultancy_project evaluation