LIFE ENABLE at the ESPARC Congress for Protected Area professionals in Sigüenza, Spain

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The ESPARC Congress started in 1995 and, since then, it has consolidated as one of the main events to facilitate the exchange and dissemination of information between Protected Area professionals. Specifically, it targets public administration technicians dedicated to the planning and management of Protected Areas, although is open to the participation of all nature conservation professionals.

From May 22nd to 26th, EUROPARC Spain together with the Sustainable Development Office of the Castilla La-Mancha Chartered Community hosted the XXII ESPARC Congress in Sigüenza, Spain, under the theme “Territories of Life”.

The agenda included a highly technical component, workshops, information exchange, a marketplace, plenary sessions, and different field trips.


The workshops featured a wide range of interesting topics, including:

  • How to improve landscape connectivity and ecological restoration to increase adaptation capacities to climate change?
  • How can we contribute to the objective of 10% strict protection in Spain through management experiences?
  • How to ensure coherence between conservation objectives and tourism management in Protected Areas?
  • How to face the challenge of rural depopulation and adaptation to climate change?
  • How to move forward in connecting nature conservation with human well-being and health?
  • How to improve communication of the role of Protected Areas in a context of global change?

Market place

The congress brought together 175 nature conservation professionals from all over Spain.

They had the opportunity to explore the experience market featuring 10 stalls, among which were spaces from EUROPARC Federation and EUROPARC Spain.

This was a great opportunity for EUROPARC Federation to spread the word about our projects, programmes and initiatives.

It was a pleasure to introduce the participants of the Congress to:

LIFE ENABLE and the European Nature Academy,



Healthy Parks Healthy People Europe 

Interreg Europe GREENHEALTH

and the European Day of Parks.

The Nature Restoration Law is a fact!

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On 17.06, the European Council has approved the Nature Restoration Law. An important step for nature and people!

EUROPARC welcomes the approval of the EU Nature Restoration Regulation

On the 17th of June 2024, the EU Council approved the EU Nature Restoration Law, two years on from its first publication by the European Commission. “This is a day that strategically changes our approach to EU nature conservation with crucial impact for the decades to come – Says EUROPARC President, Michael Hošek. Continuing:

It not only strengthens the EU environmental legislation, but also adds to the existing tools and measures (generally underperforming) a new approach that responds to both scientific knowledge and practical needs.

What is significant for EUROPARC and Protected Areas (PAs) from today’s approval?

1) Even though the proposal was changed in some parts during the deliberations, it is still strong enough and provides a sufficient framework for what is needed: the resulting compromise is an ambitious piece of legislation, with clear targets and good level of ambition.

2) The National Restoration Plans that will be drawn up by individual countries are the perfect tool not only for themselves, but also to support international cooperation for nature restoration.

3) Protected Areas will play an important role for the successful implementation of the new legislation. Even if the Nature Restoration Law primarily targets restoration beyond Protected Areas, till 2030 priority will be given to Natura 2000 sites. A large number of which are managed, or under the responsibility, of EUROPARC members: overlapping Protected Areas and other PA managing authorities.

Implementation of the law will soon start. EUROPARC acknowledges the challenges ahead and will continue to support member states and their Protected Area networks, to identify opportunities and drive innovation. We can do this best, by working across sectors, including tourism and agriculture, making new alliances, and finding routes to a resilient nature that ensures people are part of the process.

Council of the European Union official press release:

  • Formal adoption of the Regulation on nature restoration: see press release.

SAVE THE DATE: International Networking event on our future landscapes

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Representatives of the EUROPARC Atlantic Isles and Low Countries Sections have joined forces to create an exciting seminar and workshop that is open to all interested. Indicate your interest now to be the first to know when registration opens!

Fitter for the future – Our evolving landscapes in the 21st century

We invite all EUROPARC members and friends to join a special networking event hosted by EUROPARC Atlantic Isles & Low Countries Sections.

We live and work in a dynamic and rapidly changing world: social, economic and environmental impacts can be observed all around us. Our Protected Areas are increasingly vulnerable to a range of pressures. This necessitates new thinking about management practices, the scale of our work and the alliances required to ensure more effective and integrated responses.

If we need new thinking, how radical should we be and who will be the alliances, people and voices that will bring about change? How do we listen, engage, and support these communities and individuals?

To find practical ways of achieving this, we need to look at the common challenges and consider different ways that protected landscapes and others have started to address these issues. To achieve the goals of 30:30, nature recovery, impacts of climate change, health and wellbeing challenges, and new designations, we need to get broader support for the relevance and benefits of protected landscapes from different stakeholders and the wider population.

This innovative and exciting European networking event, will highlight the need for cross border cooperation to ensure a resilient nature and fitter landscapes emerge from collaboration by exploring Protected Area practice across Europe but particularly on either side of “la Manche”.

Working together, we will discuss current Protected Area designations across Europe and what might be needed in the future that will link and manage nature across landscapes.

Together, we will explore how to meet needs related to access, nature recovery & climate change impacts, along-side possible new cross-sectoral alliances and inclusive stakeholder approaches that will be increasingly required for effective management, at scale. In the run-up to this joint event, EUROPARC Atlantic Isles are also organising a series of webinars and site visits, prior to the face-to-face final seminar in Sheffield.

Join us on the ‘Sustainability Express’!

International networking and knowledge-sharing, without the large carbon footprint: that is the Sustainability Express! Central to this event is the unique workshop, which takes place on the train from the Netherlands to England.

Working and travelling together, we begin our journey together on-site in National Park Zuid-Kennemerland, the Netherlands, before travelling to Sheffield, England, via EUROSTAR. In the field and on the train, we will share experiences, information and knowledge to discuss the question: ‘are our protected landscapes fit for the future?’. The culminating Seminar takes place in Sheffield UK, and this is also open to participants who will not join the Sustainability Express.

Outline programme

We are currently developing the programme. This is the outline programme:

The Warm -Up

To get fitter landscapes mean we need to warm up our creative and critical collective thinking. This starts in the National Park Zuid-Kennemerland, the Netherlands. It is a green oasis in the middle of a densely populated area. Due to climate change, the landscape in the National Park is changing, making adaptation to new conditions necessary. This is a real challenge for an area that is in close proximity to urban areas and experiences high visitor numbers. How do we adapt, respond, cooperate and invest to be ready for the future? Expect a full day in the outdoors while discussing burning questions about the relevance of Protected Areas in changing and multifunctional landscapes!

The Circuit Training

Having warmed up our thinking muscles, we put them into practice in an innovative and sustainable moving workshop! Here you join us on the ‘Sustainability Express’ from The Netherlands to England! During an interactive workshop, we will work on shifting mindsets and creating stronger alliances with (new) stakeholders.

The training continues as we look for innovation and impact that will change our landscapes for a fitter future, with a seminar in Sheffield, England. Here you can expect thought-provoking speakers, workshops and loads of opportunities to connect with peers on an international level.

The Cool Down

Hopefully all that creativity will lead to new plans, ideas, projects and of course, international connections and contacts. After this innovative event, you will return fit and ready for the future to improve your Protected Areas practise back home.

The options to join are:

You’ll get the most from the event if you attend the whole experience, but you can of course also join for parts of it. These are the options:

  • Option 1: Join the whole event, from the field trip in Zuid-Kennemerland, to the seminar in Sheffield (please note you’ll have to arrive in the Netherlands on the 17th);
  • Option 2: Join in Brussels on the EUROSTAR ‘Sustainability Express’ to London and then to Sheffield;
  • Option 3: Join in just for the seminar in Sheffield on the 20th and 21st of November.

Cost indication

Final costs will be made available once registration opens. For now, these prices are there to give you an indication of total costs you can expect:

  • Option 1: €350 / 300 GBP – includes the field trip in Zuid-Kennemerland, the Seminar in Sheffield, coffee and lunches + travel from Amsterdam to Sheffield on the ‘Sustainability Express’.
  • Option 2: €275 / 250 GBP – includes the travel from Brussels to Sheffield, the Seminar in Sheffield, coffee and lunches.
  • Option 3: 100 GBP – includes the Seminar in Sheffield, coffee and lunches.

All costs are indicative. Final costs for attending will be made available once registration opens. Further travel costs, as well as accommodation, breakfast, and evening meals are not included and are the responsibility of participants. A range of accommodation options to suit different budgets will be provided once registration opens.

The Field Trip

National Park Zuid-Kennemerland, the Netherlands, is a green oasis in the middle of a densely populated area. Due to climate change, the landscape in the National Park is changing, making adaptation to new conditions necessary. This is a real challenge for an area that is in close proximity to urban areas and experiences high visitor numbers. How do we adapt, respond, cooperate and invest to be ready for the future? Expect a full day in the outdoors while discussing burning questions about the relevance of Protected Areas in changing and multifunctional landscapes!

Indicate your interest now

Developing European Nature Academy | LIFE ENABLE end-of-project networking event

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The project ends, but the European Nature Academy is just getting started!

From 14 – 16 of May, 60 people from 10 countries gathered in Castelfranco Veneto, Italy to explore the future of the European Nature Academy.

Flip through our virtual photo album to see the event highlights:

You can download the pictures here.


This event presented the LIFE ENABLE project and its achievements and invited delegates to discuss ways to capitalise on the results. Using a mix of plenary presentations, interactive sessions and break-out group working, the aim was to identify ways to consolidate the ENA, reflect on the achievements and discuss its future development: to inform the AfterLIFE Plan and Guidelines for Replicability, the goal is to sustain the ENA as the dedicated professional development and capacity building hub for Natura 2000 and Protected Area staff.  The event also created an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the LIFE ENABLE project and for partners and participants to showcase some of the project’s highlights from their own perspectives.

Additionally, participants had the opportunity to present their LIFE (and other) projects, programmes and initiatives at the event’s networking Knowledge Market.  

A field visit to the LIFE Brenta project, Grave e Zone Umide della Brenta (IT3260018) Natura 2000 site was an integral part of the programme. Participants were able to discuss the site’s riverscape rich in different habitats (e.g., standing and running water habitats, forests, dry grasslands) and hosting a variety of species of conservation interest.

Check out this video to hear about the project highlights from the perspectives of our participants and project partners:


The feedback gathered will be used to inform the end-of-project Feasibility Study and Guidelines for Replicability which will be widely disseminated, so watch this space!

Take a look at our LIFE ENABLE story video to discover the path we took to bring our ideas to life:

LIFE ENABLE at Green Week: the Natura 2000 Award ceremony 

On May 29, the Natura 2000 Award 2024 ceremony was held in Brussels. EUROPARC Federation was honoured to be invited to share the LIFE ENABLE project experience, in particular presenting the ENA’s tools and methods for communicating about and advocating for Natura 2000. This was a perfect opportunity to share news about the project with finalists and other guests, as well as to initiate discussions on the opportunities provided by the Natura 2000 Award.

We warmly congratulate all the Natura 2000 Award winners across the 5 categories for their outstanding LIFE projects. Here are the winners of the ‘Working Together for Nature’ category, with Gary Goggins and Derek McLoughlin from National Parks & Wildlife Ireland representing LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature.

Photo: Neil McIntosh