Meet our Star Award winner Trescàlia!

Beth Cobo from Trescàlia receives the Star Awards at the European Parliament in Brussels.

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The International Jury awarded the incoming tourism agency Trescàlia in the Contribution to Conservation Category for their very positive commitment to raising environmental awareness among tourists and visitors.

Bringing people up close with nature

Butterfly monitoring

Trescàlia has sustainability at their core. They have been part of the permanent Forum for Sustainable Tourism “Turisme Garrotxa” in the La Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa Nature Park, since its beginnings in 2013. Within the forum, they help promote the “Garrotxa Experience Catalogue” for tourism agencies. This catalogue contains ecotourism proposals, with all ECST accredited companies in the area!

However, they are not just motivating other companies to create sustainable tourism offers – Trescàlia is leading the way! The business has a collaboration agreement with the Catalan Institution of Natural History. In this partnership, together with their customers, Trescàlia is carrying out the monitoring of different flora and fauna like butterflies.

Since 2010 Trescàlia has carried out a monitoring activities of butterflies for 30 weeks per year!

Furthermore, Trescàlia offers multiple-day packages for visitors that all include nature-friendly and volunteer activities. These include a visit to the visitor’s centre of the Natural Park, where they are welcomed by a Park technician; planting local fruits or harvesting them; monitoring bats, birds or other animals; surveying flora or removing invasive species. All activities are always done with a Park technician. This allows visitors to get a deep understanding of the natural area, whilst also actively participating in its conservation.

Getting up close with nature with Trescàlia

Trescàlia also puts in a lot of effort to offer year-round tourism that is well-spread-out throughout the natural area. They avoid promoting highly-frequented places and focus more on less-well known spaces. The guides also explain to the visitors why it is important to have a better spread of tourism to help raise awareness.

All this has resulted in Trescàlia winning the ‘Contribution to Conservation’ Category at the Star Awards. Congratulations!

Get ready to celebrate with us in 2023!

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On the 12th of May 1973, what we now recognise as the EUROPARC Federation was founded. In 2023, come and celebrate this 50-Year anniversary with us!

A message from our President

Our President Michael Hošek, on behalf of the Czech delegation, spent the past few weeks negotiating at the COP15 in Montreal. However, he still managed to make some time to create a special message for EUROPARC members. This message was recorded just a few days before the finalisation of the COP15. EUROPARC is glad to see that yesterday, a deal was reached to conserve 30% of the planet by 2030. Good news for Nature. Good news for Protected Areas. Good news for EUROPARC members!

50 years of EUROPARC – celebrate with us!

Inspired by Michael’s message? Then we have great news for you! Next year, you will have the chance to share your video message! Throughout 2023, we will be celebrating the incredible milestone of EUROPARC’s 50-Year Anniversary. Of course, we also want to hear from YOU, our members!

In January, you will receive information on how to submit your Park’s message. For now, you can already start to think of an ending to this sentence: “For me, the EUROPARC Federation is…”. In short, 30-second videos, we want to hear from our members what the EUROPARC Federation means to them.

You can also already prepare to “Build on your Roots” for next year’s European Day of Parks. Furthermore, do not forget to save the date for our Conference in the Netherlands, from 3 – 6 October.

As you can see, we have loads in store for you. However, now the time has come for reflection and relaxation. We look forward to seeing you all again next year, and for now:

The EUROPARC Directorate wishes all a happy holiday season!

Meet Projecte Sèpia – Star Award winner 2022!

Boris Weitzmann receives the Star Award on behalf of Projecte Sèpia

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On the 2nd of December, we awarded the Star Award winners 2021/22 during our ECST and Star Award Ceremony in the European Parliament. Keep on reading to learn more about Projecte Sèpia (ES), winner in the special “Innovation” Category!

The International Jury decided to create a special award on Innovation to acknowledge the originality of this conservation project and the strong cooperation with fishermen, schools and tourist business.

Projecte Sèpia – A community coming together to restore the marine environment

Local fisherman and gear, Projecte Sèpia

The Projecte Sèpia was born with the aim of improving the breeding conditions of cephalopods and repopulating the waters of the Empordà. Together with local, artisanal fishermen, the project wants to preserve traditional fishing and promote sustainable practices.

The Empordà bays struggle with a great decline of cuttlefish. This threatens the livelihoods of local fisherman and has gravitating social and environmental repercussions. The Sèpia project aims to ensure the reproduction of cephalopods and the incorporation of juveniles into the populations of the Empordà bays and raise awareness on the importance of the sea and sustainable tourism.

To support the dwindling cuttlefish numbers, scientists working in the project have installed underwater cuttlefish spawners (called Sepieres) made from branches in l’Escala and L’Estartit to create a protected place for cuttlefish and squid. This work is carried out together with local fishermen and technicians from the Montgrí-Medes Natural Park. These nurseries are then avoided by sailors and fishermen, favouring the reproduction of cuttlefish and squid.

Besides this action, artisanal fishermen have been coordinated to retrieve the cephalopod’s eggs that have been attached to their fishing gear and placed in incubator cages. This way the eggs can hatch normally and the youngsters incorporate to the biomass of the bays.

More than 1,5 million eggs have been saved in three years by these actions.

Educational Activities of Projecte Sèpia

Apart from active conservation and collaboration with local stakeholders, Projecte Sèpia is also part of the educational project ‘El Parc a l’Escola’ of the Parc Natural del Montgrí illes Medes and Baix Ter. They create activities for students and families like counting cuttlefish and squid eggs and presenting the Marine Protected Area. The education actions at the artificial spawners for the cuttlefish are carried out in places that are easily accessible on foot or by swimming from the beach. This way, each year more than 200 students from the Natural Park school have learned to value the Natural Park, artisanal fishing and local products.

In 2022 a tourist activity has started in which visitors sail on an ancient fishing boat to learn about traditional fishing, about the Projecte Sepia and about the MPA of the Natural Park.

Congratulations to Projecte Sèpia on their extraordinary work!

Meet Explore Iberia – Star Award winner 2022!

Explore Iberia received the Star Award at the European Parliament in Brussels

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On the 2nd of December, we awarded the Star Award winners 2021/22 during our ECST and Star Award Ceremony in the European Parliament. Keep on reading to learn more about Explore Iberia (PT), winner in the “building my Community” Category!

Explore Iberia: bringing people and nature together

The International Jury awarded the tourism agency and activities provider Explore Iberia in the Building my community Category for their work as promoters of a consortium of local business

Experiencing the natural heritage, Explore Iberia

Is it possible for a business to practice local biodiversity conservation and restoration? It certainly is! Explore Iberia “adopted” a natural site, from Geoparque litoral de Viana, and plays an active role in the landscape restoration and conservation.

They are a small independent tour operator that is invested in providing visitors with an authentic experience in Northern Portugal and Galicia. The team of local experts have developed tours that incorporate their wealth of biodiversity and cultural heritage knowledge, and they provide full flexibility. Whether visitors want private tours, self-guided tours, flex-guided tours or to go solo – Explore Iberia allows each visitor to experience the region as they wish. They also have special offers for travellers that are blind or have low vision.

Their style of slow travel promotes sustainable practices and a deeper immersion into local cultural experiences.

When creating their activities, the team always makes sure to add a “cultural discovery moment”, where interpretation and experiencing the local culture play a key role. From corn bread workshops, to seaweed harvest or traditional pottery painting, visitors can experience the authentic culture of the region, whilst enjoying local food and drinks.

Discovering the local culture, Explore Iberia

The Explore Iberia team is well-established in the area and works together with a consortium of local businesses. They include them within their own tours, but also as joint stakeholders in the European Charter of Sustainable Tourism Forum in the Alto Minho region. They have also signed protocols with a university and two professional schools to offer internships and with the Employment and Professional Training Institute to train local young people that want to work as nature guides.

Through all these activities, Explore Iberia contributes to the cultural and social fabric of their community. EUROPARC congratulates Explore Iberia on their great work!