The Voice of Nature at the highest level in the European Commission

EU flags in front of European Commission ©

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ignace schops, karmenu vella, european commission

Mr. Karmenu Vella and Ignace Schops at the European Commission, November 2016

EUROPARC President Ignace Schops and Executive Director Carol Ritchie were yesterday welcomed at the European Commission for an important meeting with the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Mr. Karmenu Vella acknowledged the important role of EUROPARC has, as the voice of Protected Areas in Europe. EUROPARC members, the guardians of Europe’s biodiversity, are the most important source of information on the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives. The Commissioner also considered that Protected areas are at the nexus of many differing agendae, integrating  nature conservation and sustainable development across a broad range of  societal themes, such as agriculture, health,  tourism and community engagement. The Commissioner recognised, the Federation as the broadcaster of important field perspectives providing the feedback that the Commission is looking forward to receive.  With the integration of Fedenatur into EUROPARC and the opportunities that bring to reach an even wider spectrum of European society, ensures that relations between EUROPARC and the European Commission are now stronger than ever.

Finding a new language for Protected Areas

The work of EUROPARC members is in the front line of sustainability: it underpins nature conservation but goes further, towards enhancing the economic and social benefits Protected Areas can deliver.  This is evident in the EUROPARC strategy 2015-2021 as it seeks to encompass the social and economic dimension of Parks, aiming for a “Sustainable Nature, Valued by People”. EUROPARC brings to the agenda a broader perspective of protected areas in the fields of sustainable agriculture, health, climate change mitigation, transboundary cooperation, sustainable tourism, ecosystem services and much more.

Our meeting was able to highlight this body of work and experience, to the Commissioner. Now, the European Commission is seeking another language for protected areas; an economical language that also highlights the social benefits that can be translated and recognised by other European Institutions, business and the wider society. EUROPARC will be one of the most significant sources of information to get those messages across. Through examples and best practise studies, highlighting the work of our members, the Commission will be looking for opportunities to work with EUROPARC for future action in this field.

Integration, implementation and capacity building

After the recent decision to merge with Fedenatur, EUROPARC is now also closer to urban centres, thus, closer to the majority of European Population. Currently, EUROPARC members are responsible for almost 40% of the Natura 2000 network and affect directly at least 25% of the European population.


Together, members and the Federation will be a stronger player highlighting the value of protected areas and showing that nature conservation has to be integrated in the wider society.

The work of the Federation in providing new tools and training for Natura 2000 managers, such as the Communications Toolkit, was also remarkably noticed by the Commissioner. Supporting parks, bringing people together and offering capacity building opportunities is in the very essence of EUROPARC.

The voice needs words

EUROPARC now has an open dialogue with the European Commission, senior managers from DG Environment and a direct connection to the Commissioner himself. We have better ways to give our members the recognition they deserve. More than ever, we need you – EUROPARC members. We have opened the door – now we need even more feedback from your work in the field!

Yes, we are the voice, but we need your WORDS. Do get in touch with EUROPARC Directorate, disseminate your results and share your thoughts and experiences implementing and integrating European policy. We look forward to receive your information.

Watch also the Welcoming words of Karmenu Vella at EUROPARC Conference 2016.