EUROPARC Webinar – The EU Habitats Directive: from theory to practice

Krkonose National Park, Czech Republic © Kamila Antošová

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The EU Habitats Directive: from theory to practice

14th February 2017  from 16:00 to 17:15 CET(Central Europe Time)


On this EUROPARC webinar, we will explore how the EU Policy is being implemented in Natura 2000 sites, with a special focus on the Habitats Directive. This Directive ensures the conservation of a wide range of rare, threatened or endemic animal and plant species.

During the webinar, we will look at an important tool, the Appropriate Assessment framework (Article 6.3-4 Habitats Directive) and share two case studies, from a Park perspective and from a Ministry level.

The webinar is jointly organised by EUROPARC Federation and EUROPARC Central and Eastern Europe and will be moderated by Michael Hošek, Coordinator of the Section and who sits as the EUROPARC representative on the EU Commission’s Expert Group on the Management of Natura 2000.

Michael was in charge of the Natura 2000 implementation in Czech Republic between 2005-2013 and has been still active in the topic not only in the EU countries, but also in the EU candidate and associated countries.

How to join?

Webinars are open not only to EUROPARC members – but to everyone with an interest in Protected Areas. You can join in from anywhere: you will just need a device with internet connection. Participation is free, but you need to register first! Register here.
The webinar is held in English and participants will have the chance to join the discussion with the invited speakers, at the final part of the webinar.

Case Study 1 – A hundred times nothing killed the donkey

by Stanislav Březina, Krkonoše Mountains National Park, Czech Republic
Krkonose National Park, Czech Republic © Kamila Antošová

Krkonose National Park, Czech Republic © Kamila Antošová

The title of the case study is a Czech proverb describing the situation when a considerable change is a result of gradual (and often long-term) accumulation of many negligible changes. Mountain meadows in SCI Krkonoše are metaphorically the donkey from the proverb.

Their area is being reduced steadily and considerably by house-building. Individual houses are usually small, they do not concentrate in large areas and the total area of meadows is still large. Therefore, it is difficult to convince public about the necessity of appropriate regulation.

The case study shows (i) basic facts about the area reduction of mountain meadows in the SCI Krkonoše and (ii) methodological approach of its regulation in the frame of Appropriate Assessment.

Case Study 2 – The Appropriate Assessment in Hungary

by András Schmidt, Ministry of Agriculture, Hungary

Hortobagy National Park, Hungary © Gábor Kovacs

Hortobagy National Park, Hungary © Gábor Kovacs

How is Hungary following the Appropriate Assessment?

The presentation aims to give an overview of how Article 6(3)-(4) of the Habitats Directive has been transposed into Hungarian legislation and into the authoritative system of Hungary. It will also summarise the story of two cases when Hungary requested the opinion of the European Commission under Article 6(4) of the Habitats Directive. One case concerns a SAC, the other case occurred in a SAC which is also a national park.

More information about the Article 6
The Article 6 is one of the most important in the Habitats Directive, as it defines how Natura 2000 sites are managed and protected by:
– requiring the Member States to take appropriate conservation measures and avoid activities that can damage habitats;
– laying down the procedure to be followed when planning new developments that might affect a Natura 2000 site.

Visit the EU Commission website for more information about the Habitats Directive.
If you would like to suggest a topic for a webinar or would like to introduce your good practice contact us to b.pais @

Scotland: Campaigning for new National Parks

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Scotland © NP Archive

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There is an intense campaign in Scotland for the creation of new National Parks. Last week, the campaign reached the Scottish Parliament with an event entitled “Unfinished Business – More National Parks for Scotland”Campaigners are showing the case for the establishment of 7 new national parks, to join the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, and The Cairngorms, the only National Parks in Scotland.

An exhibition welcomed participants at the Parliament and three Scottish specialists on Protected Areas were invited to share their view. Carol Ritchie, EUROPARC Director, was one of the invited speakers, along with Sir Alex Fergusson and Ross Anderson. Together, they have shown the economic, environmental and social benefits that new National Parks would bring to the country. Read more about the event here and read EUROPARC’s vision below.

The campaign is led by the Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) and Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland and the event was sponsored Finlay Carson, MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries.

EUROPARC supports the creation of new National Parks in Scotland and wishes a very successful campaign.

The National Parks of Scotland can and should celebrate our guardianship of our cultural and natural assets.

Over history, the way we perceive our landscapes has changed, and indeed our national parks as part of that landscape has also changed over time.

National Parks ARE and CAN BE part of delivering that sustainable development AS long as we truly mean. Sustainable development and no sustaining development.

The creation of national parks in Scotland NOW and in the FUTURE is not about creating museums of nature, but laboratories of living working landscapes. They should be allowed to innovate and experiment and grow, for the benefits of the wider countryside and for all of society in Scotland.

EUROPARC believes that … Appreciating the value of Nature is the first act towards creating a sustainable world. Off course we want a sustainable Scotland. Appreciating, understanding and valuing are important but CARING enough to conserve our natural resource is a necessity for our society.

The real challenge of National Parks now and in the future is not just the external factors of climate change and biodiversity loss. Of financial insecurity and political instability or inactivity. The challenge is not just to shift budgets…  but thinking and approach.

Not only do we need to change how we manage our landscape, but we need to change the landscape of the mind.


  • Adopt innovative, forward thinking, outward looking inclusive approach– partnership working with communities, public sector, business, academia.
  • Examine the Culture of the organisation, remain Relevant
  • Be the nature reserve, health centre, spiritual retreat, sports facility, ecosystem services “factory”, cultural repository, iconic landscape, national identity. = Be the NATIONAL park.
  • Embrace Sustainability –  Scotland’s National Parks need to be models for nature conservation,  sustainable natural resource use benefiting society and maintaining our cultural heritage and rural livelihoods
  • Continue to engender sense of Protected Area community across Common Goals: Shared Vision, encourage exchange of ideas, network. 
  • Make it REAL. BE Authentic!
  • Network – with EUROPARC. Learn from others!

excerpts from Carol Ritchie’s speech

19/01/17 Sunday Post Edinburgh during the Unfinished Business event at Scottish Parliment discussing the creation of more National Parks in Scotland.

19/01/17 Sunday Post Edinburgh
during the Unfinished Business event at Scottish Parliment discussing the creation of more National Parks in Scotland.

Transboundary Parks Programme: the strategy planning meeting

Members of the Transboundary Task Force, meeting in Regensburg, January 2018

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Going into its 15th year, the EUROPARC’s Transboundary Parks programme counts with many successes for cross-border cooperation in Protected Areas. However, after such period, it is time not only to keep score of benefits and achievements but also to reveal the programme’s potential for the future.

8a_Transboundary logo

On 12th and 13th January, EUROPARC invited five distinguished members of TransParcNet, the network of EUROPARC’s certified transboundary areas, to a strategy planning meeting at EUROPARC headquarters. Jakub Kašpar from KRNAP (CZ), Leo Reyrink from Grenspark Maas-Swalm-Nette (NL), Arto Ahokumpu from Parks & Wildlife Finland (Metsähallitus) and Stefano Santi from Parco Naturale Prealpi Giulie (IT) made the trip to a cold and snowy Regensburg, whilst Tiia Kalske from Pasvik Inari Trilateral Park (NO) joined the discussion through skype.


Petra Schultheiß, the member of EUROPARC responsible for the Transboundary Parks Programme, reviewing the future topics of work with the members of the strategy planning meeting.

Assessing and planning

The two days of meeting were used efficiently to assess the status quo of the programme with its successes and its needs for the future:

the programme is perceived as a knowledge tool that offers peer learning opportunities and provides a European living network of transboundary experts.

The future of the programme will depend on good governance with clear roles and functions, not only inside the EUROPARC directorate. The commitment of many people, including the Transboundary Areas, task groups and individuals will help to bring a new level of activity, prominence and recognition to the Transboundary Parks Programme.

At the end, participants of the meeting identified six main areas of work that build the basis of the new strategy and will be brought to live with actions over the coming 2-4 years:

  • governance,
  • communication,
  • quality standards,
  • enlargement,
  • “foreign policy”
  • networking

img_5866 img_2238

Future activities

Key activities like evaluations and re-evaluations or the cherished annual TransParcNet meeting will continue. They will be complemented by new actions such as creating a communication plan and material, produce training tools like videos and case studies or a campaign to initiate cooperation and participation of cross-border parks and other transboundary initiatives across Europe.

The EUROPARC directorate will remain the main hub of coordination for the activities and will be responsible for the overall implementation of the strategy. However, many actions will be lead directly by the task group formed by the meeting participants with support from ad-hoc task forces, where experts on certain topics, e.g. communication or funding, will be brought in to develop a certain task.

A visual summary of the meeting

Watch the video of the Transboundary strategy planning meeting and  learn more about the participants’ opinions.

EUROPARC is very grateful for the voluntary support of its members to take the work forward in planning meetings and the actual implementation of the strategy in order to continuously strengthen the Transboundary Parks Programme and make it fit for the future.

Learn more about the Transboundary Parks Programme. For more information contact p.schultheiss @

Protected Areas. Isn’t that old-fashioned?

The Swiss National Park was the second Park being created in Europe, in 1914 © Swiss National Park Archive

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Article issued by Carlos Romão

extracted from EUROPARC Journal Protected Areas In-Sight 2016


Photo from EUROPARC Spain Archive

Once upon a time… England, the 11th century, William (The Conqueror) created several ‘protected areas’ with the purpose of preserving game and forests, among them what is now the New Forest National Park. These are some of the oldest records in Europe of defined areas with a special management and dedicated laws.

Since then, the values or their perception has changed over time reflecting cultural, social, economic and political contexts: tools to conserve a specific resource (timber, game), ‘monuments’ of natural beauty and for aesthetical reasons, threatened species and habitats, labs of sustainable development and promotion of local products, etc.

Protected Areas is Europe

The first state-owned national parks in Europe were created in 1909 in Sweden and 1914 in Switzerland, with a steep increase after the 1st World War. The first trans-border park was created in 1932, in the Pienniny Mountains of Poland and Slovakia.

Between the 1970s and the 1990s, several of the international conventions on nature conservation included provisions for the creation or promotion of protected areas, including in the marine environment. Finally, the adoption of the EU Habitats Directive in 1992 gave birth to the Natura 2000 network.

Today, there are near 1.2 million square-kilometres of protected areas (almost the area of Spain, France and Germany); this is 21 % of the European terrestrial area and corresponds to 70 % of the records in the World Database of Protected Areas (from IUCN-UNEP).

The surface of protected areas doubled since the mid-1990s,

largely due to the creation of the Natura 2000 network. Currently, the network covers over 18 % of the terrestrial area and 6 % of the marine area.

pas-in-39-countires complementary-designatedmarine-pas

Graphics extracted from Carlos Romao presentation at EUROPARC Conference 2016

However, most biodiversity indicators and studies on the state of nature are rather gloomy:

  • near one-third of birds have a non-secure status (threatened, declining or depleted);
  • 60% of non-avian species assessments and
  • 77 % of habitats assessments from the Habitats Directive have an unfavourable-conservation status.

Moreover, the number of species and habitats further declining are much more than those improving; this indicates that we will most likely miss the EU 2020 biodiversity targets.

Does this mean protected areas are old-fashioned and they now have little value for conserving and restoring biodiversity?

Well, I have been fortunate to work and visit many protected areas in Europe and it is clear we see them working and delivering- not only for  biodiversity, but also many of the cultural, social and economic services and values that motivated humans through-out history, to identify, protect and especially manage defined portions of land and sea. This perception is backed-up by numerous studies published in peer-review journals or available as grey literature.

Clearly, protected areas are the backbone of nature conservation, but this type of ‘protection regime’ is not sufficient to address the significant pressures on the European biodiversity, such as : semi-natural habitats and farmland-related species being lost by abandonment of agricultural practices or its intensification; large-scale modification of freshwater systems; pollution and unsustainable fishing at sea.

  • semi-natural habitats and farmland-related species being lost by abandonment of agricultural practices or its intensification;
  • large-scale modification of freshwater systems;
  • pollution and unsustainable fishing at sea.

The clear local benefits of protected areas can only be multiplied through societal changes at local, regional, national, European and global levels.

carlos romao, european environment agency, europarc conference

Carlos de Oliveira Romao at EUROPARC Conference 2016, Parc Jura vaudois, Switzerland © Joao Romba

Carlos Romão is Project Manager specialised on Biodiversity and Ecosystems, at the European Environment Agency (EEA).

He has developed the first EU biodiversity baseline to support the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020, co-authored the first EEA report on protected areas and coordinated the EEA ‘State of Nature’ report. Currently, Carlos is working on reporting under the EU nature directives (Birds & Habitats) and on assessing conservation status of species and habitat types.


CDDA, EEA, 2015

EEA, 2012, ‘Protected areas in Europe – an overview’, EEA Report No 5/2012.

EEA, 2015, ‘State of nature in the EU – results from reporting under the nature directives’, EEA Technical report No 2/2015.

Natura 2000, EEA, 2016

WDPA, Protected Planet, 2016