ESPARC 2016: the Spanish gathering of Protected Areas
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.
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