Next webinar: Outdoor Sports – Engaging with or using nature?

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EUROPARC’s next webinar will take place on the 27th of April at 11:00 CET. It will look at opportunities and challenges presented to Protected Areas by increasing outdoor sports practice. You can sign up here (it’s free!).

Outdoor Sports and Nature

The connection between outdoor sports and nature seems to be an obvious one, and indeed, through the pandemic more than ever people are drawn to the outdoors. However, just because activities are practiced outside, does not necessarily mean that they are done in harmony with nature.

In some cases, outdoor sports practice can pose additional stress on already fragile habitats and sensitive species.

Protected Areas managers are therefore confronted with the task of minimising the impact of outdoor sports on local fauna and flora, and at the same time, welcoming sport practitioners and other visitors so that more people can enjoy the recognised benefits of Health Enhancing Physical Activity in the outdoors.

Sign up for the webinar here!

In this webinar, we will have the opportunity to hear from Lissa Breugelmans, an avid cyclist, with a Masters in Biology who can share a unique perspective as an outdoor enthusiast and practitioner, who understands the current impacts outdoor activities have on nature.

We will also learn from Daniele Piazza, director of the Dell’Ossola Protected Area about an integrated strategy – involving many different local stakeholders, to minimise and mitigate the effects of outdoor sports in this alpine nature park.

Myles Farnbank, from Wilderness Scotland, will present the Adventure Travel Guide Standard, a useful tool to  institutions, sustainable destinations and training programs, in order to build the capacity of the Outdoor sport sector on the three core responsibilities all trainers should have: Sustainability, Safety, and Quality and Meaning.

The SEE project: Training for a more sustainable, respectful and enjoyable outdoor sport experience

This webinar will publicly launch the ERASMUS+ SEE project, in which EUROPARC is one of the partners. Led by Leave No Trace Ireland, ‘SEE’ stands for Sustainability and Environmental Education in Outdoor Sports. The project aims to tackle the un-coordinated approach to the teaching and communication of environmental ethics in the spheres of outdoor sport and recreation.

The SEE project is ultimately about ensuring that outdoor sports are managed sustainably and responsibly in nature, which should enable Protected Areas to build greater confidence and trust to allow increased participation so that more people can enjoy the benefits of outdoor sports.

Webinar programme

Welcome and introduction to the webinar
By Carol Ritchie, EUROPARC Federation 

Dilemmas for an outdoor enthusiast
By Lissa Breugelmans, Outdoor sports practitioner and PhD student at University of Antwerp

The RESICETS project – Park and Outdoor Sports working together to minimise the impact of outdoor activities on wildlife
By Daniele Piazza, director of the Aree Protette dell’Ossola

The Adventure Travel Guide Standard- Showing how the Outdoor Sports sectors values nature though sustainability standards
By Myles Farnbank, Wilderness Scotland guide, fellow of The Royal Geographical Society and a Master Educator of Leave No Trace

The SEE project.  Researching the issues and finding best practice
By Mike McClure, ‎Outdoor Recreation Development Officer, ‎Sport Northern Ireland

Let’s talk about it! All participants will have the opportunity to exchange on the topics discussed and/or to ask questions.

Final remarks and Close
By Noel Doyle, Leave No Trace Ireland

The webinar will last approximately 1h 30min and it will be hosted in English. We welcome participants from all across the network and beyond.

NEW IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology

Landmannalaugar, Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland by Joshua Sortino (Unsplash)

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Last month the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published its Global Typology of Ecosystems, a comprehensive system for classifying and mapping all ecosystems on Earth.

Our planet has an incredible wealth of ecosystems, all with specific traits and qualities. The new IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology sorts these ecosystems on both their functions and composition. It is the first standardised and spatially explicit ecosystem typology of its kind. IUCN Director General Dr Bruno Oberle hopes that it will provide the framework to effectively track goals that will arise out of the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Strategy.

Through grouping ecosystems according to their characteristics and functions, it will be possible to find patterns that can help with the sustainable management of these systems worldwide.

By sharing research and management experiences about ecosystem functions, dependencies and responses to management, the typology can facilitate knowledge transfer that improves management outcomes for both biodiversity and ecosystem services.

How it works

108 major ecosystems are defined within the typology, both natural, wild ecosystems, but also those shaped by humans, like agricultural lands. The typology describes the processes that sustain them, as well as their global distributions. This will help to map out common risks that similar ecosystems face globally and what is needed to protect them. Additionally, it can assist identifying which types of ecosystems are most critical to biodiversity conservation and the supply of ecosystem services.

The system is hierarchical, containing 6 levels. The first 3 levels – Realm, Biome & Ecosystem Functional Group – represent the functional features of ecosystems and are explained in the report, the other 3 – biogeographic ecotypes, global ecosystem types and subglobal ecosystem types – represent compositional features and are often already in use and incorporated into policy infrastructure at national levels and can be linked to these upper levels.

The first level divides the ecosystems in 5 global realms:

  • terrestrial;
  • subterranean;
  • freshwater (including saline water bodies on land);
  • marine;
  • the atmosphere.

At Level 2, the typology defines 25 biomes – components of a core or transitional realm united by one or a few common major ecological drivers that regulate major ecological functions.

Level 3 of the typology includes 108 Ecosystem Functional Groups that encompass related ecosystems within a biome that share common ecological drivers and dependencies, and thus exhibit merging biotic traits.

An interactive website

Additionally to the launch of the report, IUCN launched a fully interactive website. Here, users can discover all the different types of ecosystems and explore the ecosystem typology. Additionally, users can select a specific area to analyse functional groups and so identify, for example per country, which groups can be found where.

Apart from mapping out different ecosystems world wide and looking at their management, the system also aims to assist the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA). This initiative of the United Nations sets out to measure the contribution of the environment to the economy through so-called ecosystem services, and the impact of the economy on the environment. The European Union also endeavors to take into account ecosystem services and nature’s contribution when assessing the economy.

The role of Local and Regional Authorities in protecting the marine environment

Source: Adobe Stock

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The EUROPARC Federation, along with other stakeholders, has been invited to discuss challenges and opportunities related to protection of the marine environment at the subnational level. In this article, you will find a summary of the discussed points.

Subnational authorities protecting the marine environment

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is currently drafting an opinion on the role of Local and Regional Authorities in protecting the marine environment. The local and regional (subnational) dimension of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive hasn’t received enough attention yet.

Moving forward with this unexplored dimension could accelerate the ambitious task to tackle the challenges highlighted in the report on the first implementation cycle of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, published by the European Commission in June 2020.

The challenges mentioned in the report are mainly connected with the CoR’s work on the European Green Deal, specifically its environmental component, which is strategic for the post-COVID-19 green and digital recovery. A recent report from the Court of Auditors also shows that biodiversity loss continues, and points to the possibility to increase the potential of EU funding for marine conservation objectives.

Sea floor with fish. Photo: Pixabay

The rapporteur for this opinion, Ms Emma NOHRÈN (SE/Greens) invited EUROPARC and other stakeholders to discuss the most important challenges and opportunities at the subnational level, related to protection of the marine environment.

During the debate, EUROPARC stressed the role of marine Protected Areas, and underlined the following points:

  • The importance to recognize the role of Marine Protected Areas in the local plans for marine environment protection and local development.
  • The necessity to guarantee adequate political attention, budget, human resources and skills to the Marine Protected Areas, not only to achieve the 30% target planned in the new EU Biodiversity Strategy, but especially to reach a good and efficient management.
  • The importance of coordination between local, regional and national authorities in charge of marine topics.
  • At each level, the importance of coordination between the different authorities in charge of environment, fishery, transport, but also of defense (Navy) if pertinent at the regional level, and so on.
  • The need of coherence of policies in the land and in the sea, because what happens in the land (for example agricultural practices) has a decisive impact on the sea. Therefore, a coordination with Farm to Fork Strategy (also but not only for the sea food) and CAP, is essential.
  • If in charge of a Marine Protected Area, the local authority has to guarantee adequate attention and priority to the Marine Area in relation to its different policies and responsibilities.
  • In all cases, even if not directly involved in the management of Marine Protected Areas, local and regional authorities are crucial in establishing good and long-term relation with local communities and stakeholders, as fishermen and tourism business.
  • In order to guarantee involvement of the private sector, for example, the local and regional authorities have to take clear and long term political decisions. These decisions should result in a stable framework for the private sector to decide how and when to make investments and in which direction they should drive their enterprises.
  • Partnerships with local stakeholders can be supported by local authorities, with focus on dialogue and implementation of win-win solutions. For example, local and regional authorities can provide specific recognitions to fishermen that work in a sustainable way and in cooperation with the Marine Protected Areas. The same can be done for the tourism business (EUROPARC promotes for example the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected areas, that awards Protected Areas and their private partners).

Find more information about the event here!

The Draft Opinion (pre-vote) in all EU languages is available here. At the same link, from May 25th, it will be possible to download in all EU languages the final version (post-vote in CoR Plenary) of the Opinion, which will provide the formal position of the CoR on marine protection by subnational authorities.

An inspiring new book for young people by Hendrickus van Hensbergen

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EUROPARC’s Executive Director Carol Ritchie received a version of the new book “How you can save the planet” by Hendrickus van Hensbergen which is available here now. It combines practical step-by-step actions with the inspiring stories of young environmental activists leading change across the world. A proportion of the royalties will support Hendrick’s work with young people at Action for Conservation. You can read Carol’s review of the book down below. 

“I have been lucky enough, in my role as Executive Director, to attend many EUROPARC Junior Ranger and Youth+ camps and our young people, without fail, provide me with new energy, motivation and inspiration. EUROPARC remains committed to ensuring young people have a central role in our thinking and activities as an organisation. Thus, I am always on the lookout for tools, tips and ideas that would support the same in our members areas.

It was with interest then that we received a copy of a new book “How you can save the planet” by Hendrickus van Hensbergen, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the charity “Action for Conservation”. Many will remember his stimulating input into our EUROPARC conference 2018 in Scotland. Hendrikus is not only a young entrepreneur working for conservation – he is inspiring other youngsters to lead the change and his new book is a great tool to do just that!

“How you can save the planet” is filled with personal stores from young people themselves, showing what sparked their interest in nature and what motivates them to be active ambassadors and campaigners.

The book shares what they have done to tackle issue like single use plastics, fighting for cleaner air, being more sustainable and caring for nature, with examples from inspiring young people of all ages and abilities.

In addition, the book describes many practical activities and ideas for young (and indeed not so young!) people to get active and do something about the environmental issues that concern them.

Drawing on Hendrikus’s work with Actions for Conservation, the books shows how to put young people at the center of decision-making and to feel empowered to make a difference and positive change to protect the natural world. You can see the interview he gave EUROPARC here.

Even though I can’t visit a Junior Ranger or Youth camp I was still inspired by the stories of these remarkable young people described in Hendrikus’s book.

So, for those of us in an older age group this book reminds us of the energy, passion and motivation and potential of our young people, if we give them the space and tools to act.

The book gives plenty of practical ideas for young people themselves to try out but indeed too could be helpful for Rangers, mentor or anyone working with young people in our protected areas.

So, make sure your park has a copy of “How you can save the planet”, buy one for your Junior Rangers and Youth+ groups.

Carol Ritchie”