ESPARC 2018 and the Inspiring Experiences Award – EUROPARC Spain

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Past, present, and future of Protected Areas

EUROPARC-Spain celebrated its 20th Congress – ESPARC 2018 – in Picos de Europa National Park. 160 professionals joined the celebration of the 25th anniversary of EUROPARC-Spain and the first centenary of Spanish National Parks. 

With a three days packed programme, Protected Area professionals, planners/managers of Natura 2000 sites from across Spain had the opportunity to share experiences within the technical workshops and the marketplace but got also inspiration and new ideas to implement in their Parks with the invited keynote speakers. A diverse audience of professionals working for environmental non-governmental organisations, regional administrative bodies and researchers, also joined the Conference adding value and different perspectives into the discussions held.

ESPARC 2018, a professional meeting forum

The opening event was presided by Fernando Lastra Valdés, Minister of Infrastructure, Spatial Planning and Environment of the Principality of Asturias, as President of the Inter-Autonomous Consortium of the Picos de Europa National Park, and Rafael Mata Olmo, President of EUROPARC-Spain. After the official inauguration, Amaia Barredo, Vice-President of EUROPARC-Spain, read the manifesto “For another century of parks”, a statement on the important role of protected areas in the conservation of natural and cultural heritage and their contribution to human well-being. Eduardo Martínez de Pisón, Emeritus Professor of Geography at the Autonomous University of Madrid gave a lecture on the past, present and future of protected areas.

The workshops addressed some of the main challenges of protected areas identified in the Society and Protected Areas promoted by EUROPARC-Spain, such as:

  • Social benefits: health and cultural heritage
  • Contribution to socio-economic dynamism
  • Challenges derived from global change
  • Conservation status of the terrestrial and marine Natura 2000 network
  • Diversification of governance formulas

On the 24th of May, the European Day of Parks, the morning session was opened by EUROPARC Presidente, Ignace Schops, who spoke about the work of the Federation in Brussels and explained the importance of celebrating Protected Areas at the highest level. To close his speech, Ignace praised EUROPARC Spain for the celebration of their 25th Anniversary, working for nature in Spain, connecting to Europe and representing EUROPARC so professionally.

The Inspiring Experiences Award

During ESPARC, EUROPARC-Spain announced the first edition of the INSPIRING EXPERIENCES in Protected Areas Award, with the aim to recognise, value anddisseminate initiatives that are contributing to the implementation of the Programme “Society and Protected Areas”.


  • Inspiring Experiences Award in the special category of climate change: Forest management for climate change adaptation in the Montseny Natural Park
  • Inspirational Experiences Award in the category of EUROPARC-Spain members: The planning strategy of the Natura 2000 Network in Castilla y León
  • Inspirational Experiences Award in the category of other entities involved: El Tancat de la Pipa as a model of participatory management and land stewardship in the Albufera Natural Park of Valencia

The Inspiring Experiences Award is a call to action to address the major challenges of protected natural areas. Awardees at ESPARC 2018

A general category was convened in which the member administrations of EUROPARC-Spain, on the one hand, and other entities involved in protected areas, from town halls to non-governmental organizations and other public administrations, on the other, can participate.

A special category of adaptation to climate change was also convened thanks to the support of the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment in the framework of the project “Promoting adaptation to climate change in the management of protected areas in Spain” developed by the Fernando González Bernáldez Foundation and EUROPARC-Spain.

High quality of the initiatives presented

A total of 51 projects have been received for the call: 24 projects in the EUROPARC-Spain member category, 22 projects in the category of other entities involved in protected areas and 5 projects in the special category of adaptation to climate change.

The jury particularly valued the participative (diversity of actors involved, support and social involvement), innovative (methodological and conceptual approaches) and inspiring (replicable) nature of the projects.

The ESPARC 2018 Congress: past, present and future of protected areas, was organised by EUROPARC-Spain and the Interautonomic Consortium of the Picos de Europa National Park, between the 23 to 27 May 2018 in Covadonga and Cangas de Onís, with the collaboration of the Autonomous Organism National Parks, the City Council of Cangas de Onís and the Royal Collegiate, Basilica and Real Sitio de Covadonga. The XX Congress of EUROPARC-Spain has the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment, through the Biodiversity Foundation.