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”

Biosphere Reserves in Germany

The Schwäbische Alb Biosphere Reserve: location of the 2011 EUROPARC Conference © EUROPARC Nordic Baltic Section

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Biosphere reserves around the world and across Europe create a powerful network of fascinating landscapes and valuable ecosystems. Read about biosphere reserves in Germany in a new publication by Nationale Naturlandschaften e.V.

New publication: Biosphere reserves in Germany

German biosphere reserves are home to a great diversity of habitats with a varied range of animal and plant species. In a new publication Biosphere reserves in Germany, the Nationale Naturlandschaften (formerly known as EUROPARC Germany) presents the diversity of Germany’s 16 biosphere reserves and their role for people.

Contributing to regional values through sustainable tourism, providing jobs in rural regions, offering space for leisure and recreation, are just some examples of why biosphere reserves deserve more of our attention.

Download the publication here!

Bush craft workshop organised in the Julian Prealps MAB reserve. Photo: Julian Prealps

What are biosphere reserves?

Biosphere reserves are areas of land and coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile biodiversity conservation with its sustainable use. They are internationally recognized and nominated by national governments. Simply put, biosphere reserves are “living laboratories that boost nature-based solutions for sustainable development“.

They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.

Biosphere Reserves are designated under the intergovernmental Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, a scientific programme created by UNESCO, that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments.

MAB Programme celebrates 50 years!

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme was created in 1971 with a vision to promote sustainable connection between people and nature. As it evolved, the idea materialised in the designation of biosphere reserves.

Currently, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves counts 714 sites in 129 countries all over the world, including 21 transboundary sites. We are proud to represent a number of MAB Reserves in Europe, who are also members of the EUROPARC Federation.

Check the opportunities to get involved in the celebrations of 50 years of MAB, and to pay tribute to the common thread among humanity and nature!

Nominations for EUROPARC Council and President are open!

EUROPARC General Assembly 2017, Termas de Sao Pedro do Sul, Portugal

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Every three years the EUROPARC Federation Council, including the President, needs to be elected. A new council would normally have been elected in 2020, however, due to the corona crisis this was not possible. The last Council was elected in 2017. This year’s elections will be held at the onilne General Assembly on 5th of October.

The Federation will need enthusiastic, interested men and women, from any member of the EUROPARC Federation across Europe. We therefore encourage all members from all our member countries to participate.

We are now looking for our members to nominate suitable candidates for the 2021 elections. 

Given the complexity of the work of the EUROPARC Council the following suggestions of skills, knowledge and experience are needed:

  • The ability to work in English on a regular basis
  • Information and experience about trends in public administrations and strategic planning
  • Familiarity with business models that are used by other federations and organisations would be useful.
  • Experience from governance bodies in other organisations such as being on advisory boards, councils, would be appreciated.

Nominations are exclusive for EUROPARC members

All information and the nomination form is available on this pagePlease note that this page is password protected. If you are a member and do not have the password, please drop us an email to

If you are interested in taking up this amazing challenge and opportunity, as a member of the EUROPARC Federation, you need to seek a nomination from another member. A member cannot nominate a person from within its own organisation. 

Alternatively if you/your organisation, as a member of the Federation, have identified a suitable person (from another organisation ) then

  • check their organisation remains a member of EUROPARC (we can do that for you too)
  • please seek the approval of the individual, then complete the nomination form 

Please note, that these elections are only open to full EUROPARC members.

We are looking forward to receiving your nominations,
EUROPARC Directorate

Marine environment: EU protection is wide but not deep – presentation of the special report Nr 26/2020 by European Court of Auditors

Mediterranean sea floor with sand, rocks and a lot fish in background. South Sardinia sea - Adobe Stock.

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On March 23rd 2021, the European Court of Auditors presented to the European Parliament its conclusions on the special report Nr 26/2020 “Marine environment: EU protection is wide but not deep”.

This report reflects that, despite of some progress has been made by European member states over the last decade in the protection of the marine environment, the results as of today are far away from the expected.

Presentation of the report by the Court of Auditors

At the beginning of the session, João Figueiredo, Member of the European Court of Auditors, explained the three main aspects analysed for the production of the report “Marine environment: EU protection is wide but not deep”: the policy framework, the use of funds and the progress done, to continue with the main conclusions reached.

On the one hand, among the conclusions at policy level, he stressed the difficulties found by member state to apply the EU policy framework and the insufficient use made of the existing legal provisions to coordinate environmental and fisheries policies.

On the other hand, Mr. Figuereido pointed that Marine Protected Areas currently offer little protection to halt marine biodiversity loss, the unsuccessful efforts made to meet the targets set in the Common Fisheries Policy for 2020 and the low amount of EU funds that are used for direct conservation measures, which is currently around the 6% of the total funds.

To end with, he stressed the differences found on the uneven progress made in the conservation of marine ecosystems in the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean sea, being the latter in a worse conservation scenario, where the fish stocks are overall fished twice over the calculate sustainable levels or its Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY).

After a brief presentation, the floor was given then to the Members of the European Parlament (MEPs) who, presented their perspectives on the matter.

Contributions from the Commission and perspectives from the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs)

The first contribution came from the hand of the European Commission. Veronica Manfredi, Director for Quality of Life (Air, Water & Industrial Emissions) of the Directorate General for the Environment (DG ENV) reiterated the commitment to keep working on the protection of the marine environment and stressed that a lot has been achieved in previous years, allowing to improve our knowledge on marine resources. She noted that the Court of Auditors report has focused on fisheries but that further efforts to tackle negative impacts from invasive species, agriculture, pollution and other sources should be increased. As she spoke,

Only a very holistic approach will enable to tackle the problem – Veronica Manfredi, DG ENV.

This vision on the uneven distribution of efforts, the lack of an integrated approach and the tendency of the different EU Directorates to work independently, leading to a silos approach, was widely shared by other MEPs during the session.

In this line, MEP Pierre Karleskind, Chair of the Fisheries Committee, discussed about the existing question marks on pressures different from fisheries, such as pollution and climate change. As an example, he commented reduction of fishing fleat on the Atlantic cod in order to protect the stock and how this single measure did not ensure its recovery, as it depends on other factors such as climate change that were not properly addressed.

Likewise, MEP Catherine Chabaud, European Parliament Intergroup on Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas, supported the need of coordination between different departments and brought to the table the necessity of an integrated approach, giving references to Pascal Lamy, former Director-General of the World Trade Organization and EU Trade Commissioner, for his use of the term hydrosphere to integrate land´s fresh water and ocean´s water in a single concept. She also made a call to the European Union to support this same approach and to consider oceans as a common good on which we are all individually and collectively responsible.

And to add to this matter, MEP Grace O´Sullivan, Committee on Fisheries, highlighted the existing separation between fisheries management and climate change. Furthermore, he stressed that fishing quotas are set above the MSY  and that there is not sufficient enforcement present to apply the legislation, calling the European Union to urgently act to establish an effective control system for fisheries.

Continuing on the fisheries perspective, MEP Aurelie Beigneux, Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, commented on the lack of opportunities that local and traditional fisheries have, as 99% of fishing resources are exploited by big commercial ships, and called the commission to take action to protect the former.

Regarding financial support, MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu, Committee on Budgetary Control, commented that EU funding supports marine protection through different instruments but none is specific for marine environment.

Additional comments on this regard were made by MEP Corina Crețu, Committee on Budgetary Control who pointed that the majority of funds concentrate on commercial fishing whereas other sectors are left aside.

Also on this matter, Mrs. Valérie Tankink, head of Unit in the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) of the European Commission, highlighted the current efforts being made by DG ENVI and DG MARE to coordinate their work, and the advances being done for programming the funds together with member states in the different sea basins.

Other important mentions that arose during the session were the ongoing review of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which will be open to public consultation soon, and the progress being made in the implementation of the Biodiversity Strategy 2030 to set nature restoration targets, both commented by Ms. Manfredi.

The EUROPARC perspective

The debate underlined same points that are very important for Marine Protected Areas, such as the need of tackling the marine environmental issues and biodiversity lost through  holistic approach, embracing land and sea as a whole. This holistic approach also must be reflected in a greater coherence between policy and actions and between different actors and authorities at all levels.

On the other hand, our success in achieving the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 targets on time, especially those referring to the expansion of the protected surface and effective management of MPAs, will rely on increasing the amount of dedicated human resources and funds to achieve the good control and effectiveness needed

In many cases, MPAs can be efficient even when certain fisheries and tourism are allowed within their boundaries. Reaching an effective management implies, among other factors, the implementation of an effective zoning scheme the implementation of enforcement measures and the establishment of partnership with business and local fishermen, being the later a critical point. For all of these actions, specific funds are needed.

Additional information

You can find other news about the report “Marine environment: EU protection is wide but not deep” or download the full report here.

The recording of the event is available here