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Are you ready to be enabled and become more effective, competent and confident Natura 2000 and Protected Area managers?!

Apply now to join LIFE ENABLE and be part of the new European Nature Academy (ENA) courses!

The call for applications is now officially open!

The ENA provides FREE tailor-made training and a series of practical capacity building courses for nature’s managers! 

Applications are open until the 4th of November. Courses start in February 2023!

DON’T miss your chance to gain skills, apply your learning, broaden your network and build the competencies you need to be more effective Natura 2000 and Protected Area managers!

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About the LIFE ENABLE project


Natura 2000 and Protected Area managers work in a wide variety of roles, in multidisciplinary settings. Where you work is likely to be dynamic, constantly evolving and complex. You routinely face challenges and opportunities in your daily work, which require you to apply a special mix of knowledge, skills and attitudes. In almost all cases, as well as technical conservation skills, you need to work inclusively, in cooperation with local communities and other organisations, and be able to communicate what you are doing and why. The management choices you make and the ways in which you work are critical to achieving progress towards your objectives for nature.

LIFE ENABLE is designed to meet Natura 2000 and Protected Area managers’ training needs. It is creating the new European Nature Academy to provide tailor-made training and support your professional development. 

The goal is to contribute to ensuring progress towards the realisation of the objectives and ambitions of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and underpinning policies. To achieve this, the European Nature Academy’s cost-free training courses focus on the competencies required to manage Natura 2000 and Protected Areas more effectively.

Who should apply?

At this stage, we are looking for 60 individuals working currently in Protected Areas across Europe. Once selected, you will form the European Nature Academy’s core participants.

The courses focus on management of forest and marine ecosystems in particular, so we are giving priority to managers of these habitat types, especially in Natura 2000 sites. However, even if these habitats form only part of your Natura 2000 site or Protected Area, the courses will still be relevant to you. When you apply, simply let us know which habitat type is of more interest to you – either forest or marine, but you can’t pick both!

Courses will focus on Forest and Marine ecosystems

Whatever your area of work, we will welcome your application. People of all ages and backgrounds, working in diverse roles in a Natura 2000 site or Protected Area can apply – for example:

  • Managers in either governmental or non- governmental organisations.
  • People working in national, regional or natural parks (which also include Natura 2000 sites), for example Rangers.
  • Individuals working for a local authority or public administration with responsibilities for nature conservation and protection.
  • Individuals working as a specialist ecologist or in nature conservation policy.
  • People working with local communities – for example, as environmental educators, communication specialists, volunteer or visitor managers, or individuals with responsibilities for interpretation, nature-based sustainable development, legal advisors, land stewardship etc.
  • Private landowners of a Natura 2000 site or other entrepreneurs in a Protected Area – for example, with farming, forestry, fishing or tourism interests.

How the European Nature Academy will work

The new European Nature Academy is a training hub and provides access to a series of practical capacity building courses for nature’s managers. The courses are designed specifically to equip individuals and their organisations with the competencies they require to meet the challenges and opportunities of nature management in the coming decade.

The courses are free!

There is no fee for the training. Also, your travel & subsistence costs to participate in the face-to-face networking events will be reimbursed and covered by the project.

Don’t miss your chance to learn with European Nature Academy

Delivered in a series of online modules and networking events, the emphasis is on applied learning to improve management practices. The competence-based courses cover the following subjects:

1. Ways of working for Natura 2000 & Protected Areas across Europe

This course focuses on the core skills, knowledge & attitudes you need in your daily work. It ‘kicks-off’ with a face-to-face Induction Seminar as a prelude to 10 online modules which cover:

  • European policies & priorities for nature
  • Tools for participative and inclusive governance
  • Design of communication strategies, tools, techniques and approaches
  • Management planning as a technical process for biodiversity conservation & a process for social engagement
  • Strategies for engagement, collaborative working, conflict management, resolution & mediation

Where & when?

Induction Seminar: A face-to-face networking event in Schneverdingen, Germany, from 13 to 17 February 2023.

10 online modules starting 13 March to 16 June 2023!

2. Tools for Natura 2000 forest managers OR Tools for Natura 2000 marine managers

These two courses run in parallel in September/ October 2023 – you must choose one! There will be 4 online modules in 4 weeks plus a 4 – 5 days practical workshop for each course. The precise dates for the forest and marine workshops and locations have yet to be confirmed, but they will be announced well in advance.

3. Training for Trainers Course

Being part of the core participant group, there is a further opportunity. In June/ July 2023, you can apply for an additional training course. We will recruit 20 people to ‘Train as Trainers’ of the courses you have followed and completed – you will find out more later!

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All we ask for…

We do not expect you to be ‘full-time’ on the courses – as nature management practitioners, we know you are busy people!

We estimate that on average you will commit to about 5 hours maximum per week to participate – however, the more time you invest, the more you are likely to gain!

In addition, you will need to complete and submit a ‘final assignment’ in your own time over the Summer of 2023. The time you give to doing that, is up to you, but we would expect it to take about 20 to 25 hours maximum.

Also, for the online modules, you must have access to suitable equipment (laptop/ computer, video camera, microphone etc.) plus a strong and reliable internet connection.

Selection process

The ethos of the European Nature Academy is to include rather than exclude. Our priority is to select people from a wide range of backgrounds, with different levels of experience, from many different countries across Europe.

As we want the training to benefit as many people and organisations as possible, in particular we will welcome applications from people in a position to ‘roll-out’ the training. This includes either with your own team or for colleagues working elsewhere in your organisation, but also for people in other organisations with whom you work in partnership, for example through collaboration projects.

This is an international project so we need people with good levels of English.

The application and selection timeline is as follows:

  • Completed online applications must be submitted by 4 November 2022. 
  • Possible follow-up to request additional information (where necessary) by mid-November – if you don’t hear from us, don’t worry, it’s all good! 
  • Our final selection will be completed by early December.
  • You will know if you have been selected (or not) before the end of 2022!

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Sharpen your skills with tailor made online courses

What you can gain

The courses are unique and tailor-made – by participating, you can acquire the information, gain knowledge and develop the competencies and you need to work effectively in Natura 2000 and Protected Area management.

All the courses are designed to enable you to apply your learning – all tasks, exercises and assignments are opportunities for you to realise practical benefits in your work.

In addition, selected applicants will have opportunities to:

  • Work together with your peers from around Europe and gain new contacts, insights and knowledge about Natura 2000 and Protected Area management.
  • Find practical solutions for management challenges.
  • Build your own capacity and become familiar with new e-learning tools and the latest training approaches
  • Complete a personal Training Needs Assessment (TNA) for the competencies required to improve your management expertise
  • At the end of the courses, you will be awarded a certificate of participation.

And finally…

We expect demand for places to be very high.

By applying, you confirm your willingness to sign-up for the full period and participate in all the courses and modules that run from February to October 2023. If you doubt you can commit to that, then please don’t apply as you could potentially deny a place to someone else.

It’s all or nothing – you can’t participate in only some of the modules or courses.

If you are selected, you will be asked to sign a personal statement of commitment and, where possible, obtain an endorsement from your line manager.

All applicants selected must attend two ‘live’ networking events – the Induction Seminar in Schneverdignen (for everyone) and then one forest or one marine workshop (depending on which course you apply for). Only in completely unavoidable or extremely exceptional circumstances would this obligation be waived.

Some learning is ‘fixed in time’ – apart from the face-to-face Seminar and the Forest and Marine workshops, in the online modules, there will be scheduled group sessions and ‘live’ webinars. We expect you to join a minimum of 70% of these online sessions – this is important to network with other participants and for group exercises etc. However, if you really cannot join the scheduled online sessions, you will be expected to watch recordings so you can ‘catch-up’.

All fixed time components of the courses will be announced well in advance to help you to plan ahead.

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Our commitment to you

The learning environment will be highly interactive and participatory – we are not teachers, but rather ‘facilitators of learning’!

If you change jobs at any point during the courses, we will try to find a way to help you stay involved!

We will do all we can to secure your active involvement, feedback and ideas. Together with you, we will be able to demonstrate that your work and experience matter and are vitally important for Natura 2000 and Protected Areas!

You can find out more about LIFE ENABLE here!

Connect with us via the App

Connect and learn with LIFE ENABLE smartphone app

Join the community by downloading the LIFE ENABLE smartphone app, which was produced within the LIFE project!

The app is available on Google Play and App Store! DOWNLOAD IT NOW!

Seminar Dialogue 2022 – Partnerships for Biodiversity

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Every year, the EUROPARC Federation, in cooperation with DG ENV organises the Seminar Dialogue. A one-day event in Brussels organised just for EUROPARC members.

Since its successful launch in 2017, the Seminar-Dialogue provides EUROPARC members with a chance to sit with the European Commission to share their experience and needs for the effective management of Natura 2000 areas. We are therefore pleased to invite you to this year’s edition:

Partnerships for Biodiversity: European policies and the role of Protected Areas

TUE, 08.11.2022 (16:00 – 20:00)

EUROPARC Federation Office, Boulevard Louis Schmidt 64, 1040 Brussels

WED, 09.11.2022, (09:00 – 16:00)

European Commission, rue Breydel 2, 1040 Brussels

The event is organised in cooperation with DG ENV, with DG CLIMA also participating. It is only open to EUROPARC members.

Register here

Registration closes 20th of October.

By bringing together representatives of the European Commission and Protected Area professionals, EUROPARC wants to highlight the contribution of Protected Areas to the achievement of the European policy goals, whilst giving the European Commission a clear insight into the challenges faced by professionals in the field. After two years online, the Seminar Dialogue 2022 will be in presence again.

The Seminar will count with interventions from EUROPARC members and from the different DGs, who will share the latest policy updates and funding opportunities. EUROPARC and the European Commission DG Environment have set up a programme focused on the following key areas:

  • The new Restoration law: the role of, and the impact on, Protected Areas
  • Nature Conservation in the Climate change context

The event is for EUROPARC members only. Places are limited, but we look forward to welcoming as many members as possible to Brussels. Participation is free of charge, but registration is mandatory. Register here.

The event will be anticipated by an internal networking meeting only for EUROPARC members, on 8th of November between 16:00 and 18:00 at the EUROPARC Federation Brussels Office.

A provisional programme is available here:

Draft Programme Seminar Dialogue 2022.

Happy birthday, LIFE ENABLE!

Happy birthday, LIFE ENABLE

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Happy birthday to LIFE ENABLE! Just over 1 year ago, the project held its kick-off meeting. A lot has happened in the last 12 months – here are some highlights!

We had our first face-to-face technical meeting in Marseille 6 to 8 April and our project workshop in the EUROPARC Conference in Austria May 2022.

The new European Nature Academy is taking form. This training hub will be the main gateway to the tailor-made courses and networking events being produced through the project.

All of the competence-based blended learning courses are now well ‘under construction’. There are 4 courses:

  • Ways of working for Natura 2000 & Protected Areas across Europe. This course starts with a ‘live’ Induction Seminar in February 2023 and will be delivered in 10 online modules from March to June next year. Subjects covered include: European policies & priorities for nature; tools for participative & inclusive governance; design of communication strategies, tools and techniques; management planning as technical and social processes.
  • Two courses for Forest and Marine managers to be delivered in September 2023. Both these courses will include a practical ‘on site’ workshop.
  • A Train the Trainers course where 20 people will be trained to train their peers and colleagues in the courses they have themselves completed.

The training is cost-free and travel and subsistence costs to participate in the networking events will be reimbursed by the project.

Our marine and forest experts met in June this year. They are contributing to the development of marine and forest courses.

More than 25 videos have been scripted, filmed and are now in the editing phase.

And we are ready to open the call for applicants from 5 October 2022! In the first phase, 60 ‘core participants’ will be selected. The deadline to apply is 4 November 2022 and selected participants will be confirmed before the end of this year.

We anticipate a high demand – so, if you are ‘ready to be enabled’, we will welcome your application!

If you would like to get a deeper look into everything related to the LIFE ENABLE project, you can find out more in our newly published LIFE ENABLE newsletter available here!

If you want to get all the insights and exclusive information about the LIFE ENABLE project, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter, so you don’t miss any important updates!

Exploring how Periurban Parks engage Urban Audiences

Guided visit at Sas Hegy nature reserve, on the edge of Budapest © Matthew Ross

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Every year, the Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarship supports the work of young conservationists in Protected Areas across Europe. Matthew Ross, learning and discovery ranger at the Peak District National Park, was one of the winners of the Scholarship in 2019. He travelled to Scotland and Hungary to learn more about how two Periurban Parks are approaching visitor management and nature education. The following article is written by Matthew. You can download his full report and a special toolkit at the end of the article.

The special case of Periurban Parks

Periurban Parks are a portal to nature connection for millions of people. However, the proximity to urban areas can also bring problems, with large numbers of visitors harming fragile ecosystems. Despite these challenges, there are also wonderful opportunities: we have a huge pool of people, on our doorstep, to inspire about nature! With our help, young people in these urban areas can learn to appreciate our beautiful landscapes and aspire to conserve them.

I work in the U.K’s Peak District National Park. This beautiful area is girdled by the urban areas of Manchester, Sheffield, Derby and Stoke; the threat of urban encroachment helped us become the U.K’s first national park. Seventy years later, it is these urban areas which provide a majority of the park’s visitors: millions every year!

My work involves trying to build a deeper connection between our visitors, especially young people, and the landscape. Our team provides outdoor learning experiences for schools, families, and community groups.

I have been very privileged to benefit from an Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage scholarship, enabling me to travel to two other European national parks close to urban areas. My study aims were:

  • To investigate issues caused by large visitor numbers, and how each park is trying to tackle these through engaging visitors.
  • Observing engagement techniques used by parks, with a focus on inspiring young people.
  • Finding out how national parks enable self-led visitors and remove barriers for less socially mobile groups.

The two parks I chose were:

  • Duna-Ipoly Nemzeti Park, close to Hungary’s capital, Budapest.
  • Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, just outside Glasgow, Scotland.

Engaging visitors of the Parks

In each park I met staff, visited key interpretation sites and observed education sessions and events in action. It was very instructive to find parallels between our different national parks. Despite our different contexts, many of the issues we face are similar: antisocial behaviour, wildfires, traffic congestion and impacts from outdoor pursuits. These are made more severe by the volume of visitors from urban areas.

Display celebrating young people’s conservation, Loch Lomond © Matthew Ross

All three parks recognise that direct engagement offers a way, perhaps the best way, to communicate about these issues. Education sessions can provide direct care messages to audiences about environmental issues, helping to prevent problems and inspire positive action. Beyond the immediate benefits, all three parks are “playing the long game”, trying to inspire a love of nature that will filter through generations to forge a long-lasting stewardship of these landscapes.

Young people are particularly key to this. Engaging them and providing “Eureka!” moments that connect them with nature can encourage a lifetime of learning about, and caring for, our environment.

School visits, family events and activity trails all provide great ways of enabling this. Activities that allow young people to have their own, close-up connections with nature, such as pond dipping and ‘Bio-blitzes’ are especially valuable, and all three parks make this a key feature of their work. Nature play, with mud, sticks, and water is great, too!

There are also opportunities for promoting positive action through conservation. In Loch Lomond NP, junior rangers groups run in local schools, and I observed students removing invasive species from a local nature reserve. Photos and reflections from children taking part in conservation tasks are collected and displayed in the park’s visitor centre; this creates pride in their actions and helps to inspire other visitors.

Creating easy access to the Parks

Although the urban population are very closely situated to our national parks, many of them have barriers to visiting. Traditionally, our demographics have not reflected the diverse populations of our cities, and we must try to make our parks accessible to all. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs has pioneered an Educational Travel Grant, which helps enable economically disadvantaged schools and communities.

Creating ‘National Park champions’ within local communities can help inspire people to visit, and to do so responsibly. In the Peak District, we are developing community projects and an ‘Ambassador school’ scheme to this end.

Another way of engaging harder-to-reach-groups is meeting them in their local green spaces; the best connections with nature often begin at home, and sometimes these can be useful stepping stones to visiting bigger, wilder landscapes. Duna-Ipoly has pioneered a unique way of doing this: a mobile pond-dipping laboratory that travels around different areas, connecting children with nature (and the environmental issue of water quality) close to their schools.

Accessibility and engagement possibilities for independent visitors are important too. Interpretation boards, activity trails and online resources can all help with this. Duna-Ipoly even has a National Park app.

The above is just a very brief summary of the great work being done in these national parks. Learning from their innovative, inspiring staff has been very valuable, and now I hope to build on this to help my own team engage and innovate more effectively.

I feel very grateful for this opportunity, and would recommend any young people working in protected areas to apply for an Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Foundation scholarship.

If you’d like to learn more about some nature connection and engagement techniques, I have put together a small ‘toolkit’ of ideas that can be downloaded here.

Download Matthew’s Report here!