Visitor management in Transboundary Protected Areas

TransParcNet meeting 2016 © Jakub Kašpar

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TransParcNet Meeting 2016

Visitor management in Protected Areas was the topic of the TransParcNet Meeting 2016, the annual gathering of protected area professionals interested in Transboundary Cooperation. Over 80 participants coming from 13 countries (12 European and one overseas! Germany, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Netherlands, Peru, Slovenia, Finland, Croatia) shared their experiences on managing visitors in their Protected Areas. This year, the meeting took place in Bad Schandau (Germany) from the 7th-10 June and was kindly host by the Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland Transboundary Parks: Bohemian Switzerland National Park, Labské pískovce Protected Landscape Area (CZ) and Saxon Switzerland National Park (DE).

The main focus of the several presentations and working groups organised during the meeting concerned methods and tools to improve information about visitors in protected areas. Tools, such as surveys and census, were discussed by the participants, and best practices that are being implemented were highlighted. Among the TransParcNet, there is an increased development in the field of tourism, with key actions taking place, for a high-quality, ecologically compatible and environmentally friendly visitor Management :

  • a growing number of bilingual information centers are being implemented
  • shared services for groups between Parks
  • cross-border public transport for hikers
  • scientifically-based visitor management, with data collection tools implemented
  • providing qualified information on natural features to visitors
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Field trip © Jakub Kašpar

During the meeting, the international experts had also the chance to participate in several field trips and see in practice the activities taken by the Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland Transboundary Parks, who were praised by their peers for the connection of sustainable conservation and nature-friendly tourism development.

The heads of the administrative agencies in the Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland, Pavel Benda, Dr. Dietrich butter and Petr Kříž agree:

“With the invitation to our European colleagues and specialists, we want to pass on our experiences and learn from other areas.

The meeting provides the appropriate framework for this exchange between specialists.Cross-border improvements are needed if we are to ensure low impact on nature and at the same time provide memorable natural experiences for visitors. Colleagues of Bohemian and Saxon prepared the meeting in close cooperation with the team of the National Park Centre in Bad Schandau, and the good performance is further evidence of the successful cooperation.”

Jakub Kaspar, President of EUROPARC Section for Central and Eastern Europe and Karl-Friedrich Sinner from the Board of EUROPARC Germany e.V. reported projects that are being developed in the local sections of EUROPARC. In this TransParcNet meeting there was a special commission from Ireland: all eight Irish National Parks and the Irish Tourist Board, who brought also experts from Lima and Peru.

Transboundary Parks Programme

8a_Transboundary logoEUROPARC Federation was represented by its vice-president Paulo Castro, who made a presentation about EUROPARC’s Transboundary Parcs Programme: Following Nature’s Design. The programme provides the framework for cross-border cooperation of currently 23 protected areas in 13 European countries: from Norwegian / Russian reserves of the Barents Sea in the far north to the Slovenian / Italian Alps in the south. There are currently ten transboundary regions in Europe which have received the certificate according to the EUROPARC standards. Of the 16 national parks in Germany, only Saxon Switzerland and the Bavarian Forest are cooperating within the Transboundary Parks Programme. Contrasting with Czech Republic, where all four national parks are working cross-borders.

Text provided by Saxon Switzerland National Park. Check the photos of the meeting in this album.

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Elbe Canyo © Jakub Kašpar

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Opening of the meeting © Jakub Kašpar

transboundary cooperation, transparcnet meeting, cross border cooperation, protected areas, europarc

Field trip © Jakub Kašpar

transboundary cooperation, transparcnet meeting, cross border cooperation, protected areas, europarc

Field trip © Jakub Kašpar

ESPARC 2016: the Spanish gathering of Protected Areas

ESPARC 2016, organised by EUROPARC Spain

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ESPARC is the most important event in Spain for protected area specialists, organised every two years by EUROPARC-Spain and relevant local partners. This year, the event took place in Laguardia, Rioja Alavesa, between the 7-10 June, with the support of the Basque Government and the Foral de Álava Deputation. Over 170 technicians and specialists in protected areas and nature conservation gathered to discuss the challenges of the XXI for the conservation of protected areas.

ESPARC will generate common criteria to improve the conservation status of habitats and wild species and its adaptation to climate change,

said Ana Oregi, Minister of Environment and Territorial Policy of the Basque Government, when giving the final remarks of the 5 workshops held during the event. “The new challenges addressed in this Congress are directly related to the new needs that arise as a result of a context of profound sociological, economic and environmental changes”, explained Mrs. Oregi.

During the workshops, participants discussed relevant topics  for protected areas such as the changes expected with climate change and how to address them; monitoring programmes for habitats and wild species (flora and fauna); governance and the impact of sports, such mountain races. The main highlight, though,  referred to the lack of adequate funding, so partners reflected on possible formulas that could be used for nature conservation, funding opportunities from different public and private institutions, as well as support coming from other organisations and volunteer work. Participants emphasised the need for better social and institutional support of protected areas  and the increasing demands for transparency and improved governance.

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ESPARC 2016, organised by EUROPARC Spain

For tackling the challenges ahead, protected area specialist enumerated some important measures that would could help parks become more resilient and, thus, better preserve its natural heritage:

  • the creation of technical working groups to design and propose common guidelines to support the conservation status of Spanish habitats and wild species
  • the establishment of a better relation between investigators and managers of protected areas, for knowledge transfer
  • the need to encourage local authorities to participate, both public administration and sectors of activity, naturalists groups and civil society in general, in the conservation and management of natural spaces
  • the greater  involvement of private business sector in nature conservation

Besides workshops, participants had the opportunity to participate in several technical field trips at Lagunas de Laguardia and Izki Nature Park at Alavesa Mountain.

esparc, esparc 2016, europarc spain, europarc espana

esparc, esparc 2016, europarc spain, europarc espana

Field trip, Esparc 2016

Check here more  photos  from the event. For further information about ESPARC please contact directly EUROPARC Spain.

EU Large Carnivores Platform Annual Meeting

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EU Large Carnivore Platform Annual Meeting: Rural Development funds support coexistence

Representatives from landowning, herding, hunting, research and conservation organisations met in Brussels on the 30 th May for the third annual meeting of the EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores. The Platform was established two years ago to promote ways to minimize and find solutions to conflicts between people and large carnivores. During the Plenary meeting, the members reviewed their work from the previous year and discussed future plans.

The European Commission is not a Platform member but was instrumental in establishing the Platform and co-chairs the meetings. Humberto Delgado-Rosa, Director Natural Capital, DG Environment, who was attending his first Platform meeting expressed his gratitude to Members for their contribution to an interesting meeting and continued willingness to work constructively together. “The Commission sees the voluntary nature of the Platform as its particular strength. While it is not a formal expert committee, it is potentially very influential and the Commission has its eyes and ears open to its discussions and findings.  The next step will be for the Platform members to communicate further with their own membership so that stakeholders who coexist with large carnivores on the ground have better access to information and advice and can also make their voices heard on the EU-level.”

large carnivores, eu platform, europarc

A particular focus of the agenda was the examination of good practice case studies collected by the Platform members and an assessment of the potential for funding coexistence measures through the EU Rural Development fund (the EAFRD), second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The Platform members agreed that the case studies demonstrate that, with the necessary support, coexistence can be improved or successful in particular locations in the EU. In some cases, this good practice is transferable, in others not: it is important to take into account the local situation and circumstances.

The EAFRD is a suitable mechanism for financing co-existence. Not only is it available Europe-wide but a broad cross-section of rural stakeholders are eligible to apply to the diverse array of measures included in the fund. Research commissioned by the Platform showed that currently a minimum of  29 Rural Development Programmes in 12 Member States include coexistence measures mainly to fund actions such as installing carnivore-proof fencing and employing livestock guarding dogs. Examples presented from Spain and Greece showed that there are problems with implementation. The opportunities for wider use are however there and there is high potential for improved application in this programming period, for example for information measures, advice provision or establishing eco-businesses. European Commission experts confirmed that suitable measures are included in the EU level regulations but choices need to be made by Members States about using them. The Platform members agreed to work on communicating this message to their members and providing them with the information necessary to request national governments to apply these measures in practice.

The co-chair of the Platform, Thierry de l’Escaille, Secretary General of the European Landowners Organization said, “We already have an understanding of the type of measures which can support coexistence. However, these are of little use if they come with no financial support. Support both for the measures themselves and advice in implementing them is essential. The Rural Development Programme has the potential to do this”.

Further information

The EU Platform on Coexistence between People and Large Carnivores is a grouping of organisations representing different interests groups which have agreed a joint mission:

to promote ways and means to minimize, and wherever possible find solutions to, conflicts between human interests and the presence of large carnivore species, by exchanging knowledge and by working together in an open-ended, constructive and mutually respectful way.


The Platform is made up of seven member organisations:

ELO – European landowners’ organization; Joint representatives of Finnish and Swedish reindeer herders; FACE – The European Federation of Associations for Hunting & Conservation; CIC – The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation; IUCN – The World Conservation Union; European Union Representative Office; WWF – Worldwide Fund for Nature; European Policy Office and EUROPARC Federation.

For more information on the work of the Platform, please see:

Lahemaa National Park – 45 years working with the local community

Lahemaa National Park, Estonia © Toomas Tuul

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Article issued by Ave Paulus, expert in cultural heritage

Lahemaa national park, estonia

Black Stork at Lahemaa national park, Estonia © Toomas Tuul

Lahemaa National Park – Estonia was the first national park in the former Soviet Union and was founded on the 1st of June 1971. The oldest and largest National Park in Estonia ensures the protection of a great variety of natural and cultural values: pristine habitats and cultural landscapes, culture and heritage. Lahemaa, with its more than 70 000 hectars of protected areas, is amongst the bigger protected forest areas in Europe, it hosts 72 local villages and covers over 30 000 hectars of cultural landscapes. Here we have  a lot of unique wildlife, plants.. and people.

In 2016, Lahemaa celebrates it’s 45th anniversary, and the focus of this celebration is the human impact within the National Park. More than half of the land is privately owned, thus, the National park is the home of thousands of families. People are the biggest asset of our cultural diversity.  National park management plan has been made together with locals, land is managed and culture is kept by locals. We are celebrating human touch in Lahemaa in our summer party together with local villages  in July. It ends with a night song festival in Palmse manor park.

The soul of Lahemaa

The soul of Lahemaa lies in people, who, through generations of heritage protectors and keepers, have made possible to create the national park and keep it throughout different political periods and regimes.

Arne Kaasik, one of the founders of national park, its  director during 33 years, and long-time EUROPARC council member, offered an amazing birthday present: he donated his private archive to the scientific libary of Lahemaa. The collection of photos and slides alone consists of more than 20 000 items. His archive depicts the history of the park since its foundation. It is a great honour.

Lahemaa national park, estonia

© Toomas Tuul

“Local communities, cultural landscapes and heritage“

In the autumn, 6-8 October 2016, the Environmental Board of Estonia in cooperation with Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonian Academy of Arts, ICOMOS Estonia and communities of Lahemaa National Park are organising an international conference “Local communities, cultural landscapes and heritage“, dedicated to Lahemaa National Park’s 45th anniversary. During the conference, we will look at the current issues on heritage management in theory and practice – key issues of empowerment of local communities and community involvement in heritage protection practice in Europe. The participants of this conference are experts in the field, heritage practitioners and members of local communities of protected areas, among key speakers dr Kalev Sepp, dr Peter Bille Larsen, dr Tobias Plieninger, dr Marc Metzger, dr Jonathan Porter, dr Riin Alatalu…

Lahemaa national park – unique piece of land and sea with very diverse natural and cultural values, unique place of interaction of human and nature throughout thousands of years – has been here for 45 years. We hope – much longer. We are grateful to all the people who care about the values of  Lahemaa.