NEW: Nature Regional Landscape Parks – Where Policy meets Pratice

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EUROPARC’s new position paper, launched at the Real “Green” Deal workshop on 22 October 2020, highlights the importance of Nature Regional Landscape Parks.

Nature Regional Landscape Parks – Where policy meets practice

Nature Regional Landscape (NRL) Parks are strong partners to address the Green Deal challenges at a local level, working on the implementation issues of Biodiversity Strategy 2030, 2030 Climate Target Plan, Farm to Fork Strategy and CAP and Forestry Strategy, as well as policies associated with health, sustainable tourism, culture and environmental education. However, these park remain an undervalued resource, to create “Living Landscapes“, that are good for nature and good for people.

Naturpark Our, photo: Caroline Martin.

NRL Parks have the potential to prevent current rural abandonmentpromote community involvement and support green jobs. They create sustainable tourism destinations, and encourage sustainable agricultural practices and partnerships between farmers and protected areas management. Additionally, they are excellent places for environmental education. Today, EUROPARC launched the new policy paper ” Nature Regional Landscape Parks – Where Policy meets Practice”.

The policy paper shows that it pays off to strengthen the position of NRL Parks because they can help ensure a better implementation of far-sighted approaches for a sustainable rural Europe.

The paper collates NRL Parks experience from across Europe, and indicates the policy framework that they implement. It shows the potential locked in these parks to deliver more.

Download the Policy Paper here!

The Real “Green” Deal workshop

The position paper was launched at the workshop The Real “Green” Deal, which was organised in the framework of the 18th European Week of Cities and Regions. The online workshop focused on the vital role of Regional Natural Parks in a sustainably managed Green Europe. It was moderated by EUROPARC Executive Director Carol Ritchie. She was joined by the following speakers:

  • Eric Brua, Director, Natural régional Parks french fédération, France.
  • Katy Foxford, Tourism Support Officer, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, United Kingdom.
  • Stefan Müller-Altermatt, President of the Swiss Parks Network and Member of Parliament, Swiss Parks Network, Switzerland.
  • Nina Zitz, Project coordinator, Association of Austrian Nature Parks, Austria.

The speakers from all over Europe presented different aspects related to Regional Nature Parks, such as climate change protection, ecological infrastructure for biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and youth empowerment.

National Regional Landscape Parks are ideal testing grounds for agricultural practices that play an active role in the preservation of natural areas

Said Eric Brua during his presentation on sustainable agricultural practices in NRL Parks. Sustainable agriculture is a topic that is especially present at this time, as the European Parliament will vote on the new CAP this week. In his presentation he demonstrated the great work the Nature Regional Parks in France or doing with farmers to establish sustainable agricultural practices.

Nina Zitz presented the work of Austrian Nature Parks on climate change adaption and mitigation. The presentation of projects like “Wöffies“, “Climate Walk” and “KlimaAlps“, showed what Austrian Nature Parks are doing to both combat climate change and raise awareness on the topic. The aim is to develop a common climate strategy for nature parks.

Stefan Müller-Altermatt showed how the Swiss Nature Parks make a significant contribution to ecological infrastructure. Not just by preserving, creating and maintaining core areas, but also by remedying deficits. The latter is done in cooperation with agriculture and forestry. Additionally he said that contrary to popular believe, lack of biodiversity in Swiss, especially in the densely populated lowlands is a problem. The Swiss Nature Parks work on combating this biodiversity loss, for example by bringing sheep from Engadin to the Beverin Nature Park.

Katy Foxford then gave examples of how the Youth Manifesto can help keep rural areas alive, by involving young people in decision making processes and attracting them to rural areas through job opportunities or affordable housing. She highlighted the importance of including young people in the implementation of policies like the EU Green Deal.

Through Mentimeter, Carol Ritchie asked participants what they think “regions” need to do, to ensure the potential of NRL Parks to deliver the Green Deal. You can see the results here:

National Regional Landscape Parks are natural allies to develop sustainable agriculture business in rural areas and to make people stay and work in rural areas – particularly for young people

Said Roby Biwer, member of the European Committee of Regions. He closed the webinar and highlighted that, National Regional Landscape parks also have a role to play in Farm to Fork, Sustainable Development Goals and the Biodiversity Strategy – they can be accelerators to make these policies more central at regional, national and European level.

If you could not attend the workshop, a recording will be made available here.

Download the PowerPoint presentations here:

Nina Zitz – Association of Austrian Nature Parks

Stefan Müller-Altermatt – Swiss Parks Network

Katy Foxford – Yorkshire Dales Natioanl Park Authority

Eric Brua – Natural Regional Parks Federation France

Download the Policy Paper here!

Call to action

In order to fully utilize the opportunities of Nature Regional Landscape Parks in implementing an integrated, visionary approach for a sustainable rural Europe, EUROPARC calls upon the European Union and its Member States , local and regional authorities to be actively involved in the work of Nature Regional Landscape Parks with protection, valorisation and sustainable development of the natural and cultural heritage of their territories. EUROPARC Federation also seeks that EU institutions, better integrate Nature Regional Landscape Parks in EU policies, recognising their implementation role, to give them the support and access to tools and funding required to carry out efficiently all actions needed. Europe’s Nature Regional Landscape Parks are the “real” Green Deal, with the potential to be the catalyst of local solutions that will bring about the changes needed to create a more sustainable Europe

What are Nature Regional Landscape Parks?

Nature Park Weissensee, by Ewald Neffe

The term, Regional Nature Landscape Parks contains a wide variety of large scale Protected Areas across Europe. These include, Nature Park, Natural Park, Regional Park, Landscape Park, Regional Nature Park, Protected Landscape Area or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Overall, NRL Parks have been designated, with the aim to integrate the protection of biodiversity with sustainable land use and socio-economic development in their territories.

Currently, there are almost 900 Regional Nature Landscape Parks in 22 European countries, which is about 8 % of the European Union (+ Norway and Switzerland). Although they differ across countries, they share common principles in terms of purpose, mission and governance. They are important players when it comes to rural development, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity protection and nature education (among others).

Head over to our knowledge hub and read case studies from Nature Regional Landscape Parks in our Knowledge Hub!