Engaging Sustainable Partners – Montseny Nature Park

Charter Partners awarded by Montseny Nature Park, December 2016

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Montseny is one of the most visited Sustainable Destinations in Catalonia, Spain, who started its journey with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (ECST) in 2011. In December 2016, Montseny renovated their commitment with Sustainable Tourism and was re-awarded in Brussels, at the Charter Award Ceremony.

Montseny is successfully implementing Charter Part II – Sustainable Partners, and have been recognised by their work with the local stakeholders. We’ve asked Elisabet Ros Garriga, technician of the Park and responsible for the ECST implementation, to tell us more about their engagement strategy. 

article issued by Elisabet Ros Garriga

A glimpse of Montseny Nature Park

Parc Natural del Montseny is located in the Provinces of Barcelona and Girona, in Catalonia, Spain. It is one of the oldest natural Parks in Catalonia and one of the most known of the region. The Park has 31,063.90 ha. and 85% of the Park’s surface is privately owned. Montseny was designated as Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978 and extended in 2014 to cover an area of 50.166,63 ha.

Parque Natural Montseny © JA Atauri

Montseny is the largest and highest massif of the pre-littoral mountain range: its relief starts with elevations of less than 200 metres to just over 1,700 m. The differences in humidity and temperature of the diverse environments make it a natural area extraordinarily rich in vegetation. In the lower areas we can find typically Mediterranean formations of vegetation; in the rainy mid-mountain area, mountain holm oak forests and oak woods; in the areas above 1,000 metres, beech woods and fir trees and on the peaks, scrubland and alpine meadows. The Park is less than one hour from the city of Barcelona (1.6 million inhabitants) and its metropolitan area (1.6 million inhabitants). As a result, the Park has a high number of

The Park is less than one hour from the city of Barcelona (1.6 million inhabitants) and its metropolitan area (1.6 million inhabitants). As a result, the Park has a high number of visitors estimated from 75,000 to 1 million per year.

The Charter for Sustainable Tourism: working together

The Charter Area is much larger than the Park, covering 27 municipalities: 18 belong to the Park whilst the others are completely outside the Park but they have a traditional link to the massif of Montseny.

Montseny was awarded the ECST for the first time in 2011; fulfilling Europarc’s requirements. In 2015, we began to work on the Charter renovation.

During the renovation process, the Permanent Forum met 4 times, gathering a high number of members: participation of private and public sector was about 40 participants in each session. To underline is that during the renovation process, the focus was set on ensuring real participation for the next Charter period. Therefore, municipalities were asked to formally arrange this commitment by appointing a “Charter person”.

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ECST meeting with partners

Involvement and Recognition

On May 2016 took place the renovation audit which let the verifier Amanda Guzmán get closer to the main strengths of the ECST in Montseny as well as to the challenges that the area is still facing. The Verifier’s report congratulates the Charter area for its improvement in communication and its work in cooperation with and amongst different stakeholders. The report also highlights the involvement of the Associació d’Empresaris Turístics del Montseny (Association of Tourism Businesses in Montseny) as an organisation that brings together the entire scope of the ECST.

Sustainable Partners: Implementing Charter Part II

Regarding Charter Part II – Sustainable Partners in Charter Areas, the first batch of 10 companies were awarded the Charter in December 2014 whilst the second batch of 7 enterprises was recently awarded – December 2016.

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Charter Partners awarded by Montseny Nature Park, December 2016

Park has been working on dissemination actions, positive discrimination of these companies as suppliers and funding of the Charter Part II process itself. Businesses are restaurants, hotels and rural guest houses, guiding and educational services as well as local producers offering guided visits to their farms.

The companies have also created a working group where joint action on communication activities is currently discussed. The Partners awarded have a dedicated page on Montseny’s website: http://parcs.diba.cat/web/turisme-sostenible-als-espais-naturals/restaurants1

For implementing and monitoring Charter Part I and II an external consultant company (REPTE) has been hired for developing a Charter Secretariat. This combination had good results and it was considered “positive to have an external and expert view during the process” in the Verification report.

For more information about the Charter in Montseny contact p.montseny.cets @ diba.cat.