Nature Restoration in Europe – the Role of Protected Areas
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, as well as all others at the bottom of the page.
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.
Know your worth
One thing that was underlined during the seminar, is that Protected Areas are not just “another interest group” when it comes to nature restoration, they are the experts! On that basis, the Siggen Seminar participants identified the following key roles for Protected Areas:
- Protected Area management teams are experienced and skilled ecosystems caretakers. They have the know-how to support, lead and inspire restoration projects. They have the ability and governance tools to plan, implement and monitor them to ensure success.
- Protected Areas offer high quality reservoirs of diverse species and functional habitats and ecosystems. They can serve as a model and a source to be connected to restored areas.
- Protected Areas are, or can be, living labs for nature restoration projects. Their features and structures are well suited to incubate pilot projects, demonstrate what is possible to achieve and share learnings and successes.
- Being a connection between people and nature in living land- & seascapes, Protected Areas can help communicate and collaborate with communities to foster ownership, pride, and involvement in nature restoration projects at a local level. They can help communities thrive, be rewarded and celebrate success!
- Bring in resources and funds for restoration to drive action. Protected Areas can be a bridge between local, regional, and global activities and networks and help secure both funding, and implementation.
You can find the PowerPoint presentation with all the outcomes here.
All presentations held by our experts and participants can be found here:
Olivier de Sadeleer – Introduction to the Siggen Seminar
Angelika Rubin – Nature Restoration at EU Level
Ben Ross – Nature Restoration in Scotland
Elliott Lorimer – Restoration at Forest of Bowland
John van den Berg – River Restoration in the Netherlands
Santtu Kareksela – National scale prioritization and spatial planning in Finland