Nature Restoration in Europe – the Role of Protected Areas

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Once a year, the EUROPARC Federation, thanks to the generous support of the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung, offers members a free seminar. This year the ‘Siggen Seminar’ focussed on Nature Restoration.

Why restore nature?

As clearly stated by the EU in the Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, protecting the nature we have will not be enough to reverse biodiversity loss. A complementary ambitious effort is now needed on nature restoration.

Restoring ecosystems all over Europe will help to increase resilience and connectivity of ecosystems, mitigate and adapt to climate change and prevent and reduce the impacts of natural disasters. For this, the European Commission is developing a new dedicated legislation, and the Bern Convention has recently approved targets for the restoration of natural ecosystems.

What’s the role of Protected Areas?

From the 28th till the 30th of March, 11 experts from all over Europe came together to discuss the role Protected Areas have to play in this process. 

The policy perspective was provided by Angelika Rubin of the Nature Unit of the European Commission’s DG Environment. Sadly, the EC’s proposal for a legislative framework for Member States regarding Nature Restoration has been delayed. It will hopefully be published this month (June 2022). Nonetheless, from her intervention, it became clear that special efforts will need to be put into updating the monitoring system, as well as large-scale restoration efforts.

Protected Areas are essential for restoring what was lost and protecting what was restored.

You can find Angelika’s presentation here.

The seminar

For two extensive days participants worked in teams to find answers to the following questions:

  • What are the benefits of nature restoration for communities?
  • How to implement nature restoration (from a governance perspective)?
  • What are the key roles of Protected Areas (managers) in nature restoration?
  • How can restoration projects be set up?

There was a balance of presentations held and prepared by the participants, as well as group work. Of course, the Seminar also facilitated networking and informal exchange.

The work of participants has resulted in a PowerPoint presentation that gives the answers to the above questions and also details what the opportunities are for Protected Areas concerning nature restoration. It should serve as a resource for Protected Area managers to underline the key role their Parks have to play in restoration efforts.

You can find the PowerPoint presentation with the outcomes here.

Nominations for the Alfred Toepfer Medal 2022 are still OPEN!

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Annually, EUROPARC honors those who have made a significant contribution to nature conservation in Europe through an experienced body of work and life experience. The Alfred Toepfer Medal, named after the founder of the EUROPARC Federation, Dr h.c. Alfred Toepfer (1894-1993) is awarded at the Annual EUROPARC Conference. Nominated by EUROPARC members this gives an opportunity to the work done to be praised and valued by peers. 

Nominations for the Alfred Toepfer Medal

The winner is nominated by EUROPARC members and is selected by the Juri, comprised of EUROPARC Council members. Do you have someone in mind who you think deserves recognition for their dedication or achievements in the field of nature conservation and protected areas? Please consider nominating that person for the award.

If you need inspiration, discover here the holders of the Alfred Toepfer Medal.

Nominations can be done by any EUROPARC member before the 31st of July 2022.

Criteria for nomination

The Alfred Toepfer Medal is awarding people who made an exceptional contribution to nature conservation in Europe through an experienced body of work. In particular, the work related to Protected Areas and sustainable development are being considered.

Not eligible and exclusion criteria

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Nominations will be excluded for:

  • Active council members (elected & co-opted);
  • Section representatives in a running mandate;
  • Staff members.

Decision-making process

All eligible nominations will be evaluated by a jury, appointed by the council of EUROPARC Federation. The decision of the jury will be approved by the Council of EUROPARC Federation. The winner will then be awarded during the EUROPARC Conference in France, from the 5th till the 7th of October.

The process is easy: just fill out the online form here.

If you have any questions, please reach out to members.europarc @europarc.org

BeActive…BeOutdoors…BeEducated: SEE project Report into Leadership and Environmental Training in Outdoor Sports Federations

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The SEE project aims to enhance the protection of natural landscapes through education on responsible outdoor behaviour across Europe. The project seeks to understand the impacts that outdoor sports can create in natural and Protected Areas, as well as globally, with respect to climate change. It also seeks to identify good practices from within the sector and then develop resources and methodologies to share knowledge and develop skills to support greater environmental responsibility by Outdoor Sports practitioners.

The SEE project reports

The first report:  BeActive, BeOutdoors, BeResponsible highlighted the commonly perceived issues by Outdoor Sports in Protected Areas. This was achieved through the results from a survey conducted by the EUROPARC Federation and addressed to Protected Area managers.

The second report: BeActive…BeOutdoors…BeSustainable investigated the broader sustainability issues of Outdoor Sports in Protected Areas. This report identified 9 key areas Outdoor Sports practitioners can mitigate their impact on the natural environment:

  • Mobility and Travel
  • Equipment and consumption
  • Waste and use of unsustainable materials
  • Infrastructure
  • Food and drink
  • Social media and communication
  • Events – problem or opportunity
  • Environmental and nature connectedness
  • Championing climate action and being nature advocates
Report into broader sustainability issues for Outdoor Sports.

Click on the image to download the full report

The third and final report:  BeActive…BeOutdoors…BeEducated was for partners to identify current good practices from within the Outdoor Sporting sector.

Infographic on Leadership and Environmental Training in Outdoor Sports Federations

Infographic on Leadership and Environmental Training in Outdoor Sports Federations (click on the image to see the full infographic)

The partners of the project agreed on a list of 26 sports and activities that could be encompassed within the ENOS definition of Outdoor Sports. The next step was to investigate each of these sports in their own country to gather information on their leaders’, guides’, or instructors’ training programmes. Nine partner countries were involved in looking for information on the number of courses available, and whether environmental education was offered in their leadership training programmes. To develop resources for such courses, it was important to get an understanding of how much time was available for pedagogical development within them.

The partners identified 200 federations and training organisations across these 26 sports within the seven countries of France, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. A survey was then sent out to the identified federations and training organisations investigating if the training in environmental education and sustainability issues was offered in the training programmes. 77 responses were received. The survey was also sent to all the Outdoor Sports federations in Europe that are held on a database by ENOS and 13 further surveys from other countries outside of the partner countries were received.

The results from the survey highlighted several clear trends among the sporting federations (training providers), that will be useful in developing the SEE Project toolkit. Just under 59% of the federations surveyed provide environmental education as part of their training programmes. For the federations that did not provide any environmental education, the main reason stated was lack of knowledge and time.

Whilst time and knowledge may be a limiting factor,

92% of respondents agreed that environmental education and awareness are important and should be provided in their training programmes.

The combination of interest in and importance placed on the topic of environmental knowledge for leaders, guides and instructors provide a very good opportunity for the SEE project to make a genuine difference. Even if only a few federations begin to empower their leaders, guides and instructors with greater environmental knowledge and awareness — this could have very positive longer-term impacts on the development of more sustainable Outdoor Sports.

LIFE ENABLE joining the celebration of 30 Years of LIFE projects in Austria

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On May 24-25, 2022, the event “Die Enns blüht auf – 30 Jahre LIFE-Projekte in Österreich” (“Enns is blossoming – 30 years of LIFE projects in Austria”) took place in Stainach-Pürgg and Irdning-Donnersbachtal – Styria, Austria.

At the invitation of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism, the HBLFA Raumberg-Gumpenstein, the Province of Styria and the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, a two-day symposium was held in the Enns Valley (Styria, Austria). At the symposium, about 50 participants looked back on implemented projects and brought current projects and perspectives to the stage. An excursion to LIFE projects in the region indicated the success of the programme.

Excursion to an implementation measure “Iris-grasslands in Trautenfels”

LIFE ENABLE joining the celebration

Our project, LIFE ENABLE, was presented in several one-on-one meetings with the participants networking on this topic. Officials from the Province of Styria – Natura 2000 managers, the Styrian Society for Nature Conservation, officials from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism, as well as the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection and colleagues from other environmental offices were introduced to the contents and goals of the project. The Natura2000 Protected Area managers from the Federal State of Styria were particularly interested in the project, as they have noticed a lack of specialized further education programs.

About the LIFE ENABLE project

LIFE Preparatory project LIFE ENABLE is designed to build practical nature management capacity among Natura 2000 and Protected Area managers. It aims to equip individuals and their organisations with the competencies they require to meet the challenges and opportunities of nature management in the coming decade.

It will develop a European training system called European Nature Academy as the means to develop further training projects and capacity-building programmes on a Pan-European scale. The goal is to deliver widely accessible and tailor-made learning experiences for Natura 2000 managers. 

Click here to learn more about this exciting project.

LIFE is 30

The LIFE programme began in 1992 and so far has co-financed more than 5 500 projects in the field of environmental protection. This, and many other celebration events, have helped shine a light on and celebrate all green ideas that have been brought to life thanks to the LIFE Programme.

If you would like to learn more about the current LIFE projects the EUROPARC Federation is involved in – click here!

LIFE Programmes and EUROPARC