EUROPARC Transboundary Programme at the European Week of Regions & Cities 2017
Organised every year by the European Committee of the Regions to promote initiatives of local and regional authorities in Europe, the European Week of Regions and Cities 2017 is taking place from 9 to 12 October in Brussels.
In the framework of the event, during the workshop Nature protection in cross-border areas, EUROPARC President Ignace Schops, illustrated the EUROPARC Transboundary Parks Programme and the TransParcNet, EUROPARC network of parks working across borders. Ignace shared good practices from the network, referring them as inspiration for Parks and Natura 2000 managers to better manage the challenges of biodiversity loss, climate change, as well as tourism, agriculture and local economy. Currently, the TransParcNet includes 10 transboundary areas, involving 23 protected areas in 13 countries.
Mr Andrè van de Nadort, on behalf of Mr Roby Biwer (Rapporteur for the fitness check on the Nature Directives from the Committee of Regions) and of Mr Nicola Notaro from the European Commission emphasised the importance for Europe to reinforce the “cross-border cooperation between neighbouring national or regional authorities in managing Natura 2000 sites which cover habitats that stretch across borders, or species which simply ignore borders.” For the EU representatives,
Cross-border cooperation becomes even more relevant if the conservation status of habitats and species on one side of a border depends on action taken on the other side of the border – just think of downstream river species and habitats.
During the workshop, EU instruments and tools that can help cross-border cooperation here mentioned, such as INTERREG and LIFE programmes and the European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) – that allows public entities from different Member States to come together under a new entity with a full legal personality. Indeed, EUROPARC members Alpi Marittime Regional Park (IT) and Mercantour National Park (FR) are using this tool.
In the final remarks the EU representatives mentioned that the workshop has shown that cross-border nature protection can be a success, and is moreover crucial for the protection of many cross-border Natura 2000 sites and migrating species protected under the Nature Directives.
About the EU Week of Regions & Cities 2017
The European Week of Regions and Cities is an annual Brussels-based four-day event during which officials from regions and cities’ administrations, as well as experts and academics, can exchange good practices and know-how in the field of regional and urban development. It is also an acknowledged platform for political communication in relation to the development of EU Cohesion Policy, raising the awareness of decision-makers about the fact that regions and cities matter in EU policy-making. The European Week of Regions and Cities is the biggest European public event of its kind.
In Europe, agriculture and cattle breeding are fundamental for many Protected Areas. Indeed, the protection of some specific landscapes, habitats and species depends on farming activities. Agriculture builds up the identity of local communities with tastes and long-lasting traditions, promoting cultural heritage and social cohesion. In some areas, farming activities are essential for the local economy, and are interconnected with tourism and other economic sectors.
Nevertheless, without environment-friendly practices, agriculture and cattle breeding can have huge negative impacts, dramatically contributing to biodiversity loss, impoverishment of soils and erosion, depletion and contamination of water and air pollution – affecting nature and human well-being. Hence, to build alliances and mutual understanding with farmers is crucial for many Protected Areas managers.
Diversity & partnerships: working together towards a green economy
The situation of agriculture in Europe is highly variable, and differences can be seen in:
Scale: from the small subsistence agriculture (e.g. some parks in Eastern Europe) to big agroindustry and extensive agriculture (e.g. parks in the Netherlands or Germany);
Location: farming in remote areas (e.g. in the Alps) or near big cities (e.g. within periurban parks);
Type of production: simple products for local markets or very high-profit productions (e.g. parks in the Champagne’s area);
Type of approach: the traditional local farmers vs new “hobby” farmers.
This means, for Protected Area managers who are looking for local solutions, that their stakeholders might have diverse attitudes, approaches, dimension, and needs. There is no one solution to fit all situations. To build effective dialogue and partnerships profitable for everyone, protected areas need to be aware of this diversity.
With this Webinar, we will explore two examples of strong collaborations between Protected Area authorities and farmers, involving also other actors such as public bodies, universities and NGOs. We will see how these partnerships provide benefits both for nature conservation and for the local economy, and can be a practical way to promote green economy in rural territories.
The 1st webinar on sustainable agriculture
On the 23rd October, EUROPARC is organising a free webinar for all those interested in Sustainable Agriculture. Protected Area professionals, farmers, NGO representatives, Public organisations are all welcomed to join us. Participation is free but registration is needed, please register here.
The webinar will be introduced by Stefania Petrosillo, Policy Officer of the EUROPARC Federation. Stefania represents EUROPARC in debates and events held in Brussels regarding Agriculture (as well as other topics related to Protected Areas) and she is supporting the internal EUROPARC Commission on Protected Areas and Agriculture.
Case Study 1 – Promoting open spaces with farmers in a forest park, as means to increase biodiversity
by Seán Cahill and Joan Vilamú, Serra de Collserola Nature Park, Catalonia
The loss of a mosaic landscape causes loss of biodiversity. Due to the expansion of forest, mainly because of the abandonment of farming activities, some species that depend on open spaces have declined. To counterbalance this situation, the Park is promoting several actions with a participatory approach with farmers: the recovery of farming activities where these are viable, and the maintenance of open spaces through the use of grazing animals.
Seán Cahill is a Biologist at Collserola Park’s Biological Station. Working on wildlife and biodiversity monitoring in general, with expertise in wildlife conservation and related conflicts in this highly anthropogenic metropolitan protected area subject to multiple peri-urban pressures.
Joan Vilamú is a technical agricultural engineer of the Park, working on the management of topics related to agriculture and livestock in the area.
Agricultural landscape in Serra de Collserola Nature Park
Case Study 2 – Food de-mediation and multi-functionality in a periurban park
by Paolo Bolzacchin and Alessandro Cecchini, Slow Food Lombardia
“Feeding Milan. Energies for change” was a 5 years framework research prgramme (promoted by Slow Food Italia, Politecnico di Milano-INDACO dept. and University of Gastronomic Science) which addressed the Milanese regional food development. The project concerned the territory and the farmers of the Parco Agricolo Sud Milano. The framework strategy of the project aimed to promote the values of “zero mile food” and new activities – as the earth market – for proximity leisure and local tourism. It also supported existing best practices; and aimed at building new food networks based on the two main concepts:
de-mediation – in order to shorten up the agri-food chain
multi-functionality – in order to promote economies of scope among the farmers (Economies of scope: “efficiencies formed by variety, not volume” as an opposite of economies of scale)
The project was carried out with public funds (the municipality of Milan, Milan South Agricultural Park) and private (banking foundation Cariplo).
Paolo Bolzacchini is an Agronomist and the Vice President of Slow Food Lombardia, and Alessandro Cecchini is a food engineer working in the Biodiversity area of Slow Food Lombardia.
Vegetables from the garden by Slow Food Italy
EUROPARC and Sustainable Agriculture
EUROPARC is working to enhance the good practices being done by Protected Areas to promote sustainable agriculture. Indeed, for the past months we have developed several initiatives within the topic of Sustainable Agriculture, among them:
the Siggen Seminar 2017 for managers on Protected Areas for Sustainable Agriculture: Sharing experiences,
theEUROPARC’s Agriculture and Protected Areas Commission, working to identify tools to promote people and nature-friendly agriculture across European Protected Areas.
Moreover, EUROPARC has currently an active dialogue with the European Union and other European NGOs about the Common Agricultural Policy and other EU policies on biodiversity. For more information about what is going on in Brussels about the topic follow this page: europarc.org/toolbox/sustainable-agriculture
Event organised by
How to join?
Webinars are open not only to EUROPARC members – but to everyone with an interest in Protected Areas. Participation is free but registration is necessary. You can join in from anywhere: you will just need a device with internet connection. Note that the room has a maximum capacity of 100 attendees, so make sure you are there before 3 p.m. (Central Europe Time)
This EUROPARC webinar will be held in English and participants have the chance to join the discussion with the invited speakers, at the final part of the webinar.
A survey developed by EUROPARC-Spain about the impact of the Charter Part II shows that businesses consider that the Charter helped them to enhance closer relations with the Protected Area and other committed businesses. The Charter Partner Businesses have implemented a huge amount of environmental management actions with relevant impact in energy saving, water saving, conservation, etc.
When measured, the positive impact can be shown – the efforts to become sustainable tourism businesses can increase considerably the initial costs of tourism businesses but finally, these efforts generate high costs saving and higher quality of their services.
Main challenges for businesses, parks and local authorities
The biggest challenge is to achieve a real political commitment to sustainability at all levels (national, regional, local…) that allows institutions to provide proper support to sustainable destinations and sustainable tourism businesses (legal framework, tax benefits, access to funds for innovation, etc). Therefore, it is essential to work shoulder by shoulder with political institutions, as it is to work to enhance the perception of the multiple benefits of a sustainable tourism. Hence, Parks, Businesses and Public authorities, must make efforts to educate and raise awareness of local community, tourists, and society in general.
The main challenge for committed businesses – and destinations – is to reach out the responsible markets that praise this environmental behavior, in order to turn the efforts into a higher economic added value, that can lead to business growth and profitability.
On the other hand, the main challenge for Charter Parks is to have enough available human and economic resources to support these businesses and their networks (meetings, training activities, information materials, promotional activities, etc.).
A workshops, moderated by Amanda Guzmán, from the Ecotourism Club in Spain, took place in Portugal. There, 3 case studies were presented.
The Livradois-Forez has a group of around 50 sustainable business partners working towards sustainability. Caroline presented how they are activating the Group and some of the activities they are moving forward, such as the Zero waste holidays, the Mobility challenge (promotion of alternative transports for travellers through partnerships); Corporate Social Responsibility to promote Local food production.
Euro’Meet 2017: EUROPARC at the European Network of Outdoor Sports Meeting
EUROPARC was present at the 4th Nature and Sports Euro’meet that took place in la Seu d’Urgell, on September 27th – 29th 2017. It was organised by ENOS, the European Network of Outdoors Sports, an association that was formally established in 2013, and whose main aim is to develop a stronger voice for outdoor sports, the natural environment and all the benefits that they provide to societies across Europe.
One of the main contributions of EUROPARC network to ENOS relates to the need to regulate outdoors events in protected areas, to avoid harmful impact.
For this reason, Javier Gómez-Limón, from EUROPARC Spain, was a speaker at the Conference. He gave strategies to minimise the impact of visitors in protected areas and explained the concept of “capacity of public use reception” based on three levels of assessment: physic, ecologic and psychologic. More information about the topic can be downloaded at: ES – Capacidad de acogida de uso público en los espacios naturales protegidos.
Moreover, EUROPARC Spain has an interesting guide that can also contribute to the discussion about sports in nature. The guide is about mountain races in protected areas and is available in English and Spanish.
EUROPARC has started to build a relationship with ENOS given the many points of common interest between both associations. In 2015, ENOS was first introduced to our members during the General Assembly.
This year, François Beauchard, ENOS Chairman, and the Commissioner Antoine Le Bellec, were recently invited to participate in the workshop on “Sports in nature. Is it fit for purpose?” held at the EUROPARC Conference in Portugal. (You can download the presentations of the workshop here).
On the other hand, EUROPARC director Carol Ritchie has attended previous Euro’meet Conferences. Teresa Pastor, from the directorate, was present at the Seu d’Urgell Conference. Together with members of the ENOS Board, they have identified areas of future work.
EUROPARC will further be cooperating with ENOS on the promotion of better trails design, to achieve healthy walks whilst minimising environmental impacts.
If you are interested in this topic and would like to contribute with practical case studies or solutions please contact Teresa Pastor at t.pastor @ europarc.org.