Sustainable Tourism in Monte Rufeno Nature Reserve
Sustainable Tourism is a priority for Monte Rufeno Nature Reserve, who has been awarded in 2012 with the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (ECST) . Along with the Charter Monitoring Forum, the Reserve is “looking at the past to build together the future for sustainable tourism”.
article issued by Filippo Belisario (versione in italiano qui sotto)
In Monte Rufeno (Acquapendente – Lazio region – Italy) there is an effort to imagine a future for local sustainable tourism in an innovative and unconventional way. An embryonic “ideas factory” activity has been led with old and new local stakeholders, thus producing a first list of possible actions and initiatives for the next five years. Many areas of interest have been involved, such as:
- Biodiversity conservation – shepherd dog breeding to protect herds against wolf in order to indirectly safeguard this important predator
- Citizen science – webcam installation for sharing pictures and the monitoring effort of a local bat colony, which has been declared “of national interest”
- Sustainable tourists mobility within Nature Reserve and the territory – purchase of a methane-fuelled minibus
- Environmental interpretation projects and activities – sensory hikes in the monumental century-old Sasseto wood.
Nature Reserve’s 2015 ECST monitoring forum held in March 30th 2016, in Acquapendente, focused on these and many other aspects. This meeting with the local stakeholders, regarded the first five years of the Charter’s validity (2012 – 2016); we summarized the results reached but found ourselves already projecting the possible initiatives for the forthcoming renewal of the certification (2017 – 2021).
Among the 28 participants, 19 local stakeholders who came on behalf of 16 private, public and associative realities, 7 students of the local High School (College of Science) involved by Acquapendente’s Cabinet member for the Environment, and 2 extremely qualified external observers: a young woman who just graduated in Tourism Economics at the University of Rome (with an analytical thesis on some of the Reserve’s ECST actions) and Stefania Petrosillo, ECST consultant and expert in both a national and international context.
Thanks to the recent broadening of the ECST application area to the neighbouring municipalities of Allerona and Proceno (an important target reached by the current action plan), for the first time 6 non-strictly local stakeholders attended the forum. At the same time, a meaningful interest for the participated process that will soon lead to the making of Nature Reserve’s new ECST strategic plan stimulated the attendance of 7 new potential stakeholders: a local association, the neighbouring municipalities, a school, a small transportation enterprise, farm holidays (agriturismi).
Some time has been spent to describe the results of Nature Reserve’s participation to the experimental phase of the MEET project (Mediterranean Experience of Eco Tourism), funded by the European Union, whose main aim is the building of eco-tourist packages and their promotion and sale on Anglo-Saxon markets. The figures, in terms of visibility and economic impact on the territory, are quite gratifying: 250 overnight stays in the period May 2014 – November 2015 with 50,000 euros of income which have totally been spent in the area, a package that has been successfully assessed and appreciated by important worldwide Tour Operators, 12 local stakeholders involved (a local TO, a transportation enterprise, a museum, 3 agritourism, a hotel, 2 restaurants, 2 nature guides, an astronomic association).
Forum di monitoraggio CETS della Riserva Naturale Monte Rufeno (Acquapendente – Lazio – Italia): uno sguardo al passato per costruire insieme il futuro del turismo sostenibile nel territorio
A Monte Rufeno si cerca di immaginare il futuro del turismo nel tempo a venire in maniera innovativa e non convenzionale. Un’embrionale attività di “fabbrica delle idee” condotta con vecchi e nuovi attori CETS della Riserva ha prodotto un primo elenco di possibili azioni e iniziative per i prossimi cinque anni. Molteplici gli ambiti interessati, solo per fare qualche esempio:
- Conservazione della biodiversità – allevamento di cani da pastore per proteggere le greggi dal lupo, rafforzando indirettamente la tutela di questo importante predatore
- Divulgazione scientifica – installazione di una webcam per monitorare e diffondere in diretta momenti di vita di una locale colonia di pipistrelli dichiarata di interesse nazionale
- Mobilità turistica sostenibile in Riserva e nel territorio – acquisto di un pulmino alimentato a metano
- Realizzazione di progetti e attività di interpretazione ambientale – passeggiate sensoriali nel magico bosco monumentale del Sasseto.
Di questo e tanto altro si è parlato al forum di monitoraggio CETS 2015 della Riserva, svoltosi il 30 marzo 2016 ad Acquapendente. Quest’ultimo incontro con gli attori territoriali per il primo quinquennio di validità della “Carta” (2012 – 2016) ha sintetizzato i risultati fin qui raggiunti, con un animo già proiettato alle iniziative per l’imminente rinnovo (2017 – 2021).
Tra i 28 partecipanti, 19 attori locali, in rappresentanza di 16 entità fra private, pubbliche e associative, oltre a 7 ragazzi del locale Liceo Scientifico coinvolti per l’occasione dall’Assessore cittadino all’Ambiente, e 2 qualificate osservatrici esterne: una neo laureata in Economia del Turismo all’Università di Roma (con tesi analitica su alcune azioni CETS della Riserva) e Stefania Petrosillo, consulente ed esperta CETS in ambito nazionale ed europeo.
Grazie al recente allargamento dell’ambito di applicazione CETS della Riserva ai comuni limitrofi di Allerona e Proceno (importante obiettivo raggiunto dal piano d’azione vigente), per la prima volta il forum ha visto la partecipazione di ben 6 attori non strettamente locali. Parallelamente, un significativo interesse per il processo che a breve porterà alla costruzione del nuovo piano strategico CETS della Riserva ha stimolato la presenza di 7 nuovi potenziali attori del territorio che si stanno avvicinando con fiducia a questo percorso (associazioni sportive, amministrazioni comunali, istituzioni scolastiche, strutture ricettive, una piccola azienda di trasporti).
Una parte del tempo è stata dedicata ad esaminare i risultati dell’adesione della Riserva alla fase sperimentale del progetto MEET (Mediterranean Experience of Eco Tourism), completamente finanziata dall’Unione Europea e volta alla costruzione partecipata di pacchetti eco-turistici da promuovere sui mercati anglosassoni. Le cifre, in termini di ricadute e visibilità, parlano da sole: 250 presenze nel periodo maggio 2014 – novembre 2015 con un’economia di 50.000 euro interamente spesi nel territorio, un prodotto finale apprezzato da importanti Tour Operator mondiali e ormai pronto per il mercato estero, 12 attori locali coinvolti nella costruzione e realizzazione della proposta (un tour operator locale, una società di trasporti, un museo, 3 agriturismi, un albergo diffuso, 2 ristoratori, 2 guide ambientali, un’associazione astronomica).
More information about the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas can be found in the brochure “Good for Parks, Good for People”.
Joining forces for Nature
Biggest network of periurban parks joins with the Europe’s largest protected area network
Fedenatur and EUROPARC Federation reach a friendly agreement to integrate and strengthen Europe’s leading protected area network.
In an exciting development, the board of Fedenatur and the council of EUROPARC have created Europe’s largest organisation, representing parks from the city to the sea and from the metropolitan to the mountain tops.
Combining our respective memberships creates a Protected Area network that will cover 40% of Natura 2000 sites (marine and terrestrial).
The periurban parks joining the new body are extremely important greenspaces where peak daily visitation can reach 34.000, more than attend most major European league football matches. In and around towns and cities, Fedenatur member parks provide services for a total population of almost 24 million people. Added to the 73 million people who visit, the 56 million who live beside and 4 million who reside in parks awarded with EUROPARC’s charter for Sustainable Tourism, the members of the combined organisation serve a constituency of at least 25% of the European population.
“We are very satisfied today. Union means strength. Strength to advocate for nature in a very much urbanized continent. Strength to defend the quality of life of city dwellers. This union symbolises the fact that nature is important for everyone and must be present everywhere: in cities, outside them and in more remote areas,” said Mr Agostino Agostinelli, Fedenatur President, following the historic decision to integrate was passed at the Fedenatur general assembly on 5th May.
Ignace Schops, President of EUROPARC, welcomed the addition of Fedenatur’s expertise in the management of periurban greenspaces to EUROPARC’s extensive experience in national and regional parks. He indicated that the extended network would add new stakeholders, together seeking nature conservation and sustainable development solutions to the challenges that face us all. He welcomed Fedenatur saying ”I am so proud! Nature has no boundaries. For EUROPARC Federation a new exciting time starts today, become the strongest and most unique nature network across Europe.
As a result, the EUROPARC network will grow by 10% – this is green growth for real!
Empowered by this new strengthened network I believe we take a strong strategic position in Europe. As biodiversity is still declining rapidly, we need to join forces and give a strong voice to the local, national and European leaders! Nature deserves more resources and attention on the political agendas. Together with Fedenatur, we can reach out to decision-makers and show that we do provide solutions for the social-economic challenges we currently face in Europe“.
EUROPARC has built considerable proficiency in the support of protected area management and looks forward to working too with stakeholders responsible for periurban parks, to share experience, which will help all of Europe’s greenspaces and landscapes be places that are good for biodiversity and good for people.
The integration of both organisation will begin working immediately, Joining Forces for Nature, and will strengthen the EUROPARC Federation’s network. A new periurban commission being launched and significant presence and workshop during the EUROPARC Conference in the Parc Jura Vaudois, Switzerland, 18th-22nd October.
The EUROPARC Federation is the network for Europe’s natural and cultural heritage. Created in 1973, it has over 380 members in 37 countries and, as the representative body of Europe’s Protected Areas, is the collective voice for all nature and landscape areas. The Federation works to improve the management of Protected Areas in Europe through international cooperation, exchange of ideas and experience, and by influencing policy.
Fedenatur is the European Federation of Metropolitan and Periurban Natural and Rural Areas. Since 1995, the federation manages the network of those areas, enabling experience exchanges between periurban site managers on a European scale.
Mountain biking in protected areas
Mountain bike tourism is undoubtedly a growing trend in Europe, but what are the challenges for its implementation in protected areas? How can sustainable destinations include this practice in their areas?
On the 22nd April, EUROPARC participated at the International Mountain Bicycling Association – IMBA Europe Summit 2016 to present the potential link between sustainable tourism strategies and mountain bike practices. The Federation was kindly invited by the IMBA Europe to share an overview about the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (ECST) and some good practices arising from Europarc’s network of sustainable destinations. Over 70 participants from 19 countries attended the Summit, a 3 days event that took place in Schweinfurt, Germany.
During the conference, the ECST principles and methodology received great interest from the audience, which was mainly composed of professionals in the field of mountain bike who are willing to better cooperate with protected areas. The main questions concerned the possibilities of integrating the local Charter Forum (of each sustainable destination awarded with the ECST) and, thus, the future possibility of having local bike clubs and groups actively engaged and contributing for the sustainable tourism strategy locally implemented. New trends, like e-mountain biking, were also briefly discussed.
In order to collect best practices, EUROPARC made a call to the ECST network and received good examples coming from Finland, France, Italy and Spain. Below you can find a brief description and a link about each case presented or download here the full presentation.
EUROPARC Federation considers important the further development of indicators and a monitoring methodology, to assess and evaluate the impact of mountain bike activities in protected areas – in an economic, environmental and social perspectives. Therefore, all contributions in this field, being implemented by areas awarded with the ECST, are very welcomed.
Examples from the Network
Mountain Biking in Finnish Protected Areas – a few principles and guidelines
“Cycling and mountain biking are allowed by public right of access, generally also in protected areas. They are usually practiced using existing trails, routes, and roads… Mountain biking can cause erosion on hill slopes, fell areas, and other vulnerable habitats, such as sandy heaths and rocky areas with light vegetation cover. Mountain bikers and other path users can generally use the same routes, though on the busiest routes, mountain biking can be restricted for security reasons. If a management plan is drawn up for a protected area, it should take mountain bikers into account and should involve enthusiasts and mountain biking clubs in the planning process…”
Extract from the document: Principles of Protected Area Management in Finland (2014), Parks & Wildlife Finland
Faced with the development of demand for recreation and outdoor sports, the French Cycling Federation and the French Regional Parks Federation signed a national agreement on the development of cycling and mountain biking in the regional nature parks. The French Regional Parks, through this cooperation, will strengthen the development of cycling practices, responding to the needs of both practitioners and the challenges of the Parks territories. The national agreement, valid for a period of 6 years, will be completed by departmental or local agreements on specific projects. Signed on 24th March 2016. Parks that contributed to the content of the agreement are: Parc du Luberon, Parc Scarpe-Escaut, Parc Boucles Seine normande, Millevaches en Limousin, Caps et marais d’Opale, Volcans d’Auvergne, Parc Massif des Bauges, Parc Perche.
Examples from French Parks
PNR Livradois-Forez – Mountain Bike best practices
PNR Vercors Inspiration Vecors
PNR Pilat Circular mountain bike trails
Alta Murgia National Park Transmurgiana
EUROPARC-Spain – The working group on mountain races in Spanish Natural Parks
EUROPARC-Spain is coordinating a working group on mountain races in Spanish Natural Parks. In the working group, key members are the Spanish environmental administrations, the mountain Federation, the University, environmental experts consultants and racers. At the time being, it has been drafted a document on “Best practices for the development of mountain races in protected areas”.
Torre Blanca, Valencia Centros BTT
The Comunidad Valenciana supported the creation of BTT Centers – a freely accessible facility for mountain bikers, which has a network of well-signposted routes and a series of equipment and additional biking support services. Whatever your level, BTT Centres will allow you to discover the most beautiful areas of the Region of Valencia and ride safely and comfortably. Each BTT Centre offers various trails with different levels of difficulty, taking you through areas with little motorised traffic, generally on untarmacked paths. Routes are also implemented in protected areas or use old train tracks (called green tracks).
Zona Zero Pirineos Private initiative
Offer routes inside protected areas (Parque natural Sierra y Cañones de Guara, Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido)
Examples from Spanish Parks
Sierra de Gredos Regional Park Centro BTT
Montsant Nature Park BTT Trails Catalunya
Sierra Nevada Route TransNevada
Sierra de Espuna Regional Park The Espubike Challenge
National Park Sierra de Guadarrama Trails in Guadarrama
GeoPark de Sobrarbe Pyrenees Route
About the IMBA Europe
IMBA Europe (International Mountain Bicycling Association) is a young organisation, established in 2012, operating with some professional staff since 2013. IMBA has a longer history in the US where the association has its roots and was founded in 1988. IMBA has 4 core values, speak-build-respect-ride. It’s about advocacy, sustainable trail development, education (e.g. trail etiquette) and promotion of mountain biking as outdoor recreation. The focus is at the grassroots level, and the organization is not involved in competition.
IMBA Europe was founded as an umbrella for national mountain bike groups / associations across Europe. At the IMBA Europe Summit, mountain biking was the main topic but different stakeholders were present. Ranging from member organisations to people who are working in the tourism industry, bicycle industry, land managers, Universities and nature conservation agencies.
All presentations of the IMBA Summit 2016 can be found at the following link: http://www.imba-europe.org/programs/imba-europe-summit-2016.