New coordination of the EUROPARC Central and Eastern Europe Section

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The EUROPARC Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) Section is the youngest among the network of EUROPARC Sections. It was established in 2015 as an expansion of the Czech Section and currently includes 30 members from eight countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). 

New coordination – EUROPARC Central and Eastern Europe

During the 4th Members’ Assembly, that took place in Csopak, Hungary between 18th-20th April 2018, the new secretariat of the CEE Section took over. The first Secretariat of the CEE Section was the Krkonoše National Park Authority (Czech Republic) with the Presidency of Jakub Kašpar and the Coordination of Michael Hošek between 2015 and 2018.

The Assembly-session was held on 19th April 2018 in the Park Villa Guest House of Balaton Uplands National Park Directorate in Csopak, Hungary. In the name of Mr. Zoltán Puskás, Director of Balaton Uplands National Park Directorate, Ms. Márta Veszelszki, Deputy Director of Balaton Uplands National Park Directorate, greeted the representatives.

Michael Hošek, the coordinator of the Section summarized the first three years of the Section. Jakub Kašpar, the President of the Section handed over the official flag and plaque of the Section together with the three-year presidency for Gábor Szilágyi, from the Hortobágy National Park in Hungary. The new Coordinator is Csaba Bereczki.

central and eatern europe section

Jakub Kašpar, handing over the flag to Gábor Szilágyi, new President of the Section, representing Hungary © Michael Hošek

The new president introduced the most important topics for the next three years. The Assembly discussed and commented on all the topics:

Topic 1: What we are proud of (project management know-how):

besides the original idea of sharing good (and bad) examples of closed projects, the Section should focus on more efficient use of EU funds. For this, proposal writing and project manager experts should be involved. The participants agreed that “proud of” things and projects should be listed, or assessed in a sort of database in order to give opportunity for anybody to find “best-practices” during their planning or work, and also, to visit and learn from the owner of the project, practice, knowledge.

The participants started to make a list of “to be proud of”:

  • Hortobágy National Park Directorate, Hungary:

management and eradication of invasive alien (plant) species, project proposal writing and project management

  • Krokonoše Mountains National Park Administration, Czechia:

forest management, grassland habitat monitoring, environmental education

  • Balaton Uplands National Park Directorate, Hungary:

project management, habitat management by domesticated animals, ecotourism

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Hungary:

nature conservation friendly power-lines

  • Duna-Dráva National Park Directorate, Hungary:

restoration of oxbow lakes, environmental education

  • Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority, Romania:

ecological restoration, networking, international cooperation

  • Körös-Maros National Park Directorate, Hungary:

grassland management, wetland management, restoration of natural water-regimes, (initial success in) management of invasive alien species

  • Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate, Hungary:

management and eradication of invasive alien species. environmental education

  • Kiskunság National Park Directorate, Hungary:

ranger service, communication to locals

  • Public Institution Kornati National Park, Croatia:

eco-standards for tourism

  • Őrség National Park Directorate, Hungary:

communication to locals, transboundary cooperation (Austria, Slovenia), networking in eco-tourism, butterfly focused grassland management

  • State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic, Slovakia:

conservation of large carnivores

Topic 2: Invasive alien species management:

the problem of IAS is still one of the hottest topics in the EU, so this should be kept on the surface. In the upcoming three years the Section should focus on sharing the practical management techniques. Sometimes Members feel that funding these eradication measures is problematic. Regarding this, the Section suggested to combine and connect different funding sources (Visegrad Group 4+4, Carpathian Convention, Natura 2000 Biogeographical Processes, etc.) or even think about the problem out of the box.

Topic 3: Experiences in applying Article 6 of the Habitats Directive:

after some discussion, the Section will keep this topic, too. The idea is to share good and bad examples, even sector by sector, how members and other bodies implement the article’s provisions, what kind of compensatory measures could be made. In 2017, 2 examples from the CEE Section were shared in an EUROPARC webinar focused on the implementation of the Habitats Directive.

Click on the image to access the recording of the webinar and download the presentations

Topic 4: The impact of agro-environmental schemes on Natura 2000 areas:

in order to inform the EU, key studies of good and bad examples about the implementation of agro-environmental schemes will be provided by the members.

Topic 5: Awareness raising:

during the Assembly, most of the representatives emphasized the importance of awareness raising. Laymen, people out of nature conservation and experts from other sectors are most of the time not aware of what nature conservationists do, and what are the results of spending EU, state or private money on nature conservation projects. It turned out, that probably this could be the most important topic for the next three years to learn how to promote nature conservation and its results to people, and how can we find a common language to others in order to make them support nature conservation.

In order to reach this, we have to become acquainted with terms like ecosystem services, climate change mitigation, green infrastructure, sustainable development, etc. One possible cause of the lack of proper communication is that most of the time nature conservationists try to deal with communication and project result selling. In order to be more successful in this, experts in communication should be involved in the work of the Section, making workshops, seminars, lectures.

Topic 6: Organisational development:

the Section has 28 members, however, only some of them are active. The sleeping members should be reactivated, and also new members should be recruited during the upcoming three years. Watch the video of the Central and Eastern Europe, where Jakub Kaspar highlights the main challenges of the Section.

Extra topics that have arisen during the assembly:

  • ecosystem services (besides Topic 5)
  • maintenance of project results (might connect to Topic 1)
  • wetland management (might connect to Topic 1)