How are “Friends of Parks” giving a helping hand?

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When we think the value that Friends are bringing to our personal lives, life would be quite empty without friends. But what makes a good friend? Good friends are honest, loyal, have common interests. It is not different from Friends of Parks. Generally, these groups are made of highly-motivated individuals who are willing to give a contribution to the Park within their region. They want to come together with like-minded people to make a difference. 

The “Friends of Parks” differ from region to region, country to country. Some Friends are made up by local supporters who organise regular activities within the Park. Some are very independent but co-operating with park managers on nature conservation activities or helping maintain visitor centres. Some are lobbyists and organising campaigns. Therefore, Friends can either have a legal body or a very short and informal structure. But they all touch the same point: members of the community coming together for the sake of their Park. 

But how to “get a little help” from our Friends? What kind of partnership is more beneficial to the park? What can be done when relationships are not good?

On the workshop “We are Friends”, at EUROPARC Conference, we will be sharing thoughts on how Friends of Park Groups can be an asset for Parks and learn from experiences of Friends groups within our network.

To showcase different operating models, we invited 3 organisations. From the very active bottom-up type of Friends, to the Groups created to better engage the local community:

– Friends of Parks of Ukko-Koli National Park, Finland, will be sharing their 17 years of experience working  with the Park. Since 1999, they have been supporting park in a wide range of activities, such as environmental education, applying to EU projects, monitoring visitor payback schemes, developing new visitor services and cohesion policy, and much more.

Friends of Schwarzwald National park, Germany, a younger group operating since 2014 to promote acceptance of the national park within the local community.

Charte des habitants of the Parc Jura vaudois, Switzerland, aims to engage the civil society on respecting 6 main principles of environmental responsibility.

Further Readings

Last year, the Friends of Parks of Ukko-Koli organised an interesting seminar where the Federation participated. If you are curious about the subject, give a look on the presentations that were shared there.

About EUROPARC Conference

The EUROPARC Conference is the biggest annual gathering of Protected area professionals. This year, the Conference is host by Parc Jura Vaudois, in Switzerland, between the 18th-22nd October. Under the theme “We are Parks”, we will be exploring the human dimension of our European Parks.

Make sure you reserve your place and get the chance to network, learn and share experiences with like-minded professionals.

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