Strengthening links between biodiversity protection & human health and well-being

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EUROPARC is part of the new Interreg Europe GREENHEALTH project that wants to strengthen links between biodiversity protection and human health and well-being. This week, the project had it’s kick-off meeting in Murcia.

Group work during the Kick-off meeting. Photo by: Francisco Soriano, Region of Murcia at the courtyard of Las Alquerías, “Sierra Espuña” Regional Natural Park.

On the 9-10 May 2023, the partnership of Interreg Europe project, GREENHEALTH, “Sustainable Protected Areas as a key value for human well-being” met to kick-off the project in the marvellous setting of Sierra Espuña Regional Natural Park in the Murcia Region of Spain.

Interreg Europe GREENHEALTH intends to make EU regions more biodiversity resilient by improving the management of European Protected Areas through strengthening links between biodiversity protection and human health and well-being.

There is a demonstrated link between nature and human health and well-being. The health benefits of green and blue spaces are well documented for children, whose physical and mental development is enhanced by living, playing and learning in a green environment. Adults and elderly also benefit significantly from visiting green and blue spaces, through improved physical health and social well-being.

The GREENHEALTH project wants to create linkages between health and environmental policies and incorporating human health initiatives into Protected Area programmes.

This way, the project will be able to have strong impacts on the environmental as well as on the social side. How will it achieve these objectives?

  • By revaluing Protected Areas, society will demand their conservation and more funds are allocated. This will have a positive impact on biodiversity.
  • By transforming Protected Areas into natural health centres, GREENHEALTH can maximise the social benefits of Protected Areas for the persons living close to or visiting the Protected Areas.
  • Project partners and their regional networks can build upon a decade of experience from the EUROPARC Federation’s Programme ‘Healthy Parks Healthy People Europe’.

The participants travelled from Croatia, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden to meet in person.

Before getting down to the business of fine-tuning deadlines, methodology, and responsibilities to achieve GREENHEALTH’s goals in the coming 4 years (see the agenda here) the partners were welcomed by the Counsellor of Environment, Mar Menor, Universities and Research Juan María Vázquez and the Murcia´s Region General Director on Natural Environment María Cruz Ferreira Costa. Attendees also included key stakeholders from Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

Representatives from each of the consortium partners attended the kick-off meeting, hosted by the project leader, Region of Murcia, Spain. GREENHEALTH partners are from seven regions and countries.

Field visit at Murcia Snow Wells Pozos de la Nieve, photo by Francisco Soriano, Region of Murcia

GREENHEALTH partners exhibit Interreg Europe’s inter-regional cooperation scheme due their geographical spread and diverse regional characteristics.

The GREENHEALTH project partners are:

  • The Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia. General Directorate of the Natural Environment, Spain – who is leading the project – link
  • The Podkarpadkie Region, Poland – link
  • The Public Institution for the management of protected natural areas of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Croatia – link
  • The Northern and Western Regional Assembly, Ireland – link
  • The Prešov Self-Governing Region, Slovakia – link
  • The Kullaberg Nature Reserve in Scania, Sweden – link
  • EUROPARC Federation, (advisory partner) based in Germany

On day two of the meeting, the participants had the pleasure of visiting the Snow Wells visit: “Pozos de la Nieve” and to enjoy a special Murcia “forest therapy” experience.

GREENHEALTH´s next face-to-face meeting will take place in December 2023 in Croatia and hosted by the Dubrovnik-Neretva Administration.

Learn more about the project