Sustainable Development & Management of Protected Areas by Agnė Jasinavičiūtė
Every year, the Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarship supports the work of young conservationists in protected areas across Europe. Agnė was one of the winners of the Scholarship in 2018, and in 2019 organised a very interesting road trip across many parks in the UK, this is her story and findings.
Meanwhile, the call for applications 2020 is now open! See here how you can be the next winner of the Scholarship.
Article issued by Agnė Jasinavičiūtė
Sustainable Development and Management of Protected Areas: Good practise from Scotland and England
Most of Europe’s protected areas are unique landscapes that make up the character and richness of their regions. Protected areas, far from only being important for nature conservation, are increasingly recognised as key tools in achieving a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
To preserve the landscape values of protected areas it is necessary to:
- strengthen the implementation of landscape protection principles in spatial planning, at municipal and local level
- apply methodological justification in landscape management projects
- promote principles of rational use.
The European Landscape Convention stresses that great importance in the conservation of the diversity of landscape is attributed to the integration of provisions on landscape protection, use, management and planning. Moreover, public participation is one of the key factors that determine the successful implementation of the national landscape policy. Protected areas only work when they are supported by nearby communities.
Why a study trip in the United Kingdom?
The aim of the study trips was to gain more experience and knowledge about landscape management of protected areas (via spatial planning, communication with local communities), to collect new tools and best practices better for Environmental impact assessment (EIA) and strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in order to improve process of landscape management in SSPA and Lithuanian protected areas.
My interests are focused on landscape management, so it was clear to me that I had to visit the United Kingdom, which has some of the oldest and deepest traditions of landscape protection. Moreover, our system of protected areas in Lithuania is very similar to the United Kingdom.
In order to reach the aim and objective of this study visit, several activities were implemented:
- Analysis of literature on planned visits to protected areas;
- Visit of the protected areas’ headquarters and discuss with them about the management, operational plans of protected areas, monitoring activities, decision making;
- Field trip on chosen areas – Cairngorms National Park, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park in Scotland, Shropshire Hills AONB, South Downs National park and High Weald AONB in England;
- Presentations about landscape protection and protected areas in Lithuania.
EFFECTIVE TOOLS for landscape protection in the UK
Most of the United Kingdom’s territory is covered by mountains and high-altitude hills, and so it is a good condition for the concentration of national parks. There are several National parks in the country. Also, a large part of the area is covered by Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) which ensure the protection of scenic landscapes.
Protected areas, especially national parks are large areas of land, including towns and villages, which means that lots of people and organisations help to look after them. Each National Park in the United Kingdom is looked after by an organisation called a national park authority, which includes members, staff and volunteers. Every National Park has a National Park Management Plan (e.g. The Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan). This document sets out a five-year plan for the National Park.
For Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), they are coordinated by a Partnership in accordance with the priorities, policies and objectives set out in the statutory AONB Management Plan (e.g. Shropshire Hills AONB Management Plan).
PROTECTED LANDSCAPES: Connecting different needs
Local communities, landowners and other organisations are asked for their opinions to draw and help to achieve the plan. There are a growing number of private initiatives that want to contribute to the protection of these areas. One of the best examples I came across was a private initiative by WildLand Limited. The company’s aim is to restore peatlands, wetlands and rivers and at the same time build support and understanding locally, nationally and internationally in Glenfeshie, in the Cairngorms National Park.
The main challenge in protected areas is to conserve landscape and biodiversity while providing the basis for the social and economic development of local residents. In order to reduce the possible impacts of new development projects (wind turbines, iron power stations etc.) inside or outside the protected areas, specialists of protected areas must have very convenient and valid evaluation tools e.g. Cairngorms Landscape Toolkit.
Also, Authorities and Partnerships are taking consultations and trying to reduce the possible impacts of new development projects inside or outside the protected areas. Other conservation charities, like The National Trust for Scotland and The National Trust, also develop a wide range of tools and project to protect natural and cultural heritage for present and future generations.
My study trips inspired by the Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarship and the EUROPARC Federation gave me new ideas of sustainable development and Management of Protected Areas:
- The challenge we all face is preserving the landscape for future generations. So, it is very important to have the right tools to make your decisions.
- Man is an integral part of the landscape. It is important that local communities and visitors value protected areas.
- Collaboration between local communities and sectoral policy makers (e.g. agriculture, environment, tourism) is a pre-condition for successful management
- Nature conservation initiatives often face often lack of funding because there are different priorities. We need to demonstrate both the existing and future benefits of the protected areas, and what they can provide to society. We need to connect protected areas with people across the country.
I wish that one day there will be a network “Landscape 2000” – the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world which could offer a heaven to Europe’s most valuable landscapes. At present, too little attention is paid to protecting the landscape as a home for the nation.
You can be the next winner of the Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarship…! In 2020 we will offer 3 scholarships of 3000€ to undertake study visits to European Protected Areas. Click on the image to find out how…