Apply now for EUROPARC’s Star Awards!

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The Star Awards are EUROPARC’s Sustainable Tourism Partner Awards directed at the private enterprises following the principles of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas.

EUROPARC Sustainable Tourism Partners’ Award

Sustainable Destinations depend on businesses, communities, and municipalities that are all working for a common purpose.

That is why, with the biannual STAR Awards, EUROPARC seeks to celebrate, champion and acknowledge the effort and investments made by tourism businesses to be more sustainable and help to protect their natural and cultural heritage.

The STAR Awards are your chance to really put the sustainability of your business on the map!

You can get inspired by the previous winners of STAR Awards here.

In 2021 we sadly had to postpone the STAR Awards due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are happy to open them again this year.

Applications that we received last year are still valid and will be considered!

What are the categories?

Business can apply in 4 categories:

  • Contribution to Conservation
  • Reducing impact on the Environment
  • Building my Community
  • Communication the values of my Park and my Business

All categories will include some questions regarding “Contribution to Conservation“, as it is a fundamental principle of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism. You are invited to apply in as many categories as you like. To apply, please use THIS ONLINE FORM in either French, Italian, Spanish or English. The application will close on the 1st of April 2022.

You can get all the information on the STAR Awards and the application process in our guidelines:

English_Guidelines for candidates

Espanol_Instrucciones para los candidatos

Francais_Directives destinees aux candidats

Italiano_Linee guida per i candidati

Protected Area In-Sight 2021 out now!

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Every year, the EUROPARC journal ‘Protected Areas In-Sight’ brings you the highlights of our annual Conference. It includes best practice on a wide range of topics, relevant for all nature and Protected Area professionals. You can now read the 13th edition online!

Parks in the Spotlight. Powered by People; Inspired by Nature…

… was the theme of our Conference in 2021. From different European policies, to the big increase in visitors during COVID-19, Protected Areas are gaining attention everywhere. In our Protected Areas In-Sight this year, we look at different ways Parks can deal with this spotlight they are under.

As our planet currently faces multiple challenges, we need to remember that Parks and Protected Areas hold the key to finding natural solutions. In this context, strong capacity building for nature professionals, involvement of multiple stakeholders, and adaption to climate change are key.

Says our Executive Director, Carol Ritchie.

In this issue, you can find different readings and food for thought on Rewilding in Europe, COP26, capacity building and the role of Periurban parks for a green and healthy Europe. It also features best practice examples on climate change adaptation, youth involvement and visitor management. Additionally, we had a closer look at the relation between health and nature and the importance of partnerships for nature.

Additionally, as a tribute to the 20 years anniversary of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism, the journal includes a section with viewpoints from those who were part of the beginning of this pioneering project.

Contributions have come from Rewilding Europe, the European Network for Outdoor Sports, EUROPARC Council Members, Fungobe and many more. We thank all that have contributed to this edition of our journal.

Available in 3 languages

The Protected Areas In-Sight is annually produced by EUROPARC in English, French and German. You can download the version you need below. Our members will receive a paper copy in the upcoming weeks.

Click to download the latest edition of our Protected Areas In-Sight

Download the English version

Download the French version

Download the German version

For all the previous editions, visit our library here.

EUROPARC’s recommendations for the CAP National Strategic Plans

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There should be an active Role for Protected Areas and Natura 2000 sites, in the National Strategic Plans of the European Common Agricultural Policy.

2021 saw the end of the long process to adopt the new European Common Agricultural Policy.

It is now up to the Member States to make the CAP trulygreen”. For example by proposing and implementing adequate National Strategic Plans to realize green and sustainable agriculture practices. The European Commission then needs to evaluate if the plans are in line with the strong ambitions of the Green Deal.

In our Policy Paper “Protected Areas as laboratories for Sustainable Agriculture. The role of Protected Areas in implementing the EU Green Deal & EU Agricultural Policies – 2021”, we have underline how rural Protected Areas are crucial for the establishment of new and real eco-friendly agriculture.

Therefore, the EUROPARC Federation, with the support of the EUROPARC Commission for Sustainable Agriculture and Protected Areas, has elaborated some specific recommendations, in order to value the strategic contributions that Natura 2000 sites and Protected Areas offer in reaching the CAP green ambitions and to ensure the specific needs of Protected Areas and local farmers in linking sustainable agriculture and biodiversity protection are effectively considered.

With these recommendations, EUROPARC seeks to:

  • Encourage National and Regional authorities to take into account the role of the Protected Areas and Natura 2000 sites in the elaboration of the National Strategic Plans and as key contributors to the green ambitions of the new Common Agricultural Policy.
  • Request the European Commission to consider, in the evaluation and approval of National Strategic Plans, if Protected Areas have been adequately included in the plans.

Bourdinal Mehaigne Nat Park (BE) by S.Petrosillo

EUROPARC’s recommendations

1. Management Authorities in charge of Protected Areas and Natura 2000 Sites must be actively included as key stakeholders in the preparation, monitoring and evaluation of National Strategic Plans. Protected Areas and Natura 2000 Sites in rural areas have specific expertise and are laboratories of sustainability. Protected Areas can be key actors in supporting farmers to achieve green targets, encouraging the implementation of eco-schemes and agri-environmental measures.

2. Farmers in Protected Areas and Natura 2000 sites should receive special and specific attention in the National Strategic Plans. Farming in and nearby Protected Areas involves working with stakeholders with diverse priorities, approaches and needs. The new Common Agricultural Policy should recognise these needs and incentivise and reward farmers who are working in or close to Protected Areas and Natura 2000 Sites, engaged in environment-friendly agriculture in partnership with the Protected Areas’ authorities.

3. Partnerships between farmers and Protected Areas and Natura 2000 managers must be promoted and supported by the National Strategic Plans with concrete actions and funds. Farmers and Protected Areas managers can and must be allies, because only by working together in active and positive collaboration, can we reach a more sustainable agriculture, good for nature and good for farmers. This is only possible if based on trust and long-term collaborations: effective dialogue and positive partnerships between Protected Areas and farmers is a necessity and must be adequately resourced.

4. The National Strategic Plans must be consistent with the Natura 2000 Directives and the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Alongside the work of Protected Areas, in particular, the National Strategic Plans should: enhance and improve the management of permanent meadows and pastoral areas; preserve wetlands through incentive and collective measures; develop and maintain agro-ecological infrastructures; better integrate cultural aspects and functional biodiversity.

5. The National Strategic Plans must ensure that no perverse subsidies, driving unsustainable intensification leading to habitat loss or pollution inside or alongside Protected Areas, would be permitted.

6. The National Strategic Plans must support capacity building to improve practical skills for sustainable and eco-friendly farming: actions and training should be directed both to farmers and to Protected Areas’ Management Authorities. The National Strategic Plans should assure that the Farm Advisory Systems operating in and nearby Protected Areas and Natura 2000 sites are able to offer the appropriate understanding and knowledge necessary in these specific contexts.

7. The National Strategic Plans, in coherence with the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, have to support the promotion of sustainable, healthy food products coming from Protected Areas and Natura 2000 sites: awareness campaigns and public events, gathering Protected Area managers and farmers, should promote their commitment and community engagement. Protected Areas have long-standing experience in working with farmers to achieve fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food systems. They also stimulate hospitality and food service practices in collaboration with the local tourism sector. For this reason, Protected Areas and farmers together can also contribute to influence consumers’ behaviours and to strengthen positive relations between farmers and consumers.

8. The National Strategic Plans must safeguard and promote cultural diversity in Protected Areas, where agricultural activities and traditions are actively supported in respect for landscape management: this is essential to safeguard territorial identity, avoid homogenization and avoid the loss of knowledge, most of all from collective memory. With their natural and cultural heritage and with their holistic approach in protecting this cultural richness, Protected Areas have the vast experience needed to combat negative and unsustainable transformation of rural landscapes and land abandonment.

9. The National Strategic Plans must recognise the possibilities of and interest in experimenting with innovative, enhanced sustainable technical engineering eco-regimes, which encourage real changes in practices, better targeting of direct aid and a second pillar that supports agricultural and food transition. Protected Areas represent ideal laboratories where traditional methods are recuperated and innovation is nurtured, whilst working to balance the interests of different local actors.

10. At local level, the Strategic Plans should foster the capacities of Protected Areas and Natura 2000 management bodies to plan, develop, manage local voluntary agreements that go beyond statutory requirements and are based on specific ‘on- the-ground’ nature, land, and biodiversity conservation challenges. “Results based schemes” should be an alternative to can be combined with more traditional “prescription-based” measures. Together with farmers, a monitoring scheme with clear indicators should be established to control and evaluate progress in each Protected Area and Natura 2000 site.

Cascais Ambiente (PT)

EUROPARC’s work inside the Council of Europe INGOs Conference

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In 2021, EUROPARC launched and became chair of the Thematic Committee ECCH&H (Environment, Climate Change, Heritage & Health) in the Conference of the International NGOs of the Council of Europe. Find out what has been happening so far!

Why a new committee?

The climate change emergency, the perilous state of biodiversity, the ongoing land consumption through infrastructure and agriculture in Europe and even more the recent COVID-19 pandemic, have highlighted the intrinsic need and link between human health, heritage and nature.

All of these critical topics – environment, climate change heritage and health have inequalities in terms of access and effects embedded in them. Therefore, their governance needs to be founded in sound participatory democratic principles. Democracy, human rights and the rule of law are deeply applicable and need to be ensured across these important themes in our societies.

The new Thematic Committee ECCH&H is dedicated to bridge the perceived nature-culture divide, improve mutual understanding, gather and disseminate good practice, ensure a check and balance for public institutions, and provide a cross sectoral platform.

The committee wants to ensure the human rights of European citizens are upheld with respects to the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss and the connection between people and natural and cultural heritage.

What’s the purpose?

The committee wants to collate and contribute to the work achieved under the auspices of all relevant Council of Europe conventions and committees with respect to Environment and Human Rights, referencing the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change commitments and the need for greater connectivity (as exposed through COVID-19) between people and nature, and the need to ensure understanding of and to value our shared European heritage.

The following conventions, and their relevance, will be the priority areas of work for the committee

  • Bern Convention – to address issues around human rights, justice and transparency of information around climate change, nature and health under whilst considering the conservation of flora and fauna and their natural habitats, and the promotion of international co-operation in this field;
  • Landscape (Florence) Convention – to address issues around human rights, justice and transparency of information whilst promoting the protection, management and planning of European landscapes and organise European co-operation on landscape issues;
  • Aarhus Convention to ensure access to information, public participation and access to justice, in governmental decision-making processes in particular in relations to environment, climate change, heritage and health issues;
  • Faro Convention – to ensure the important aspects of heritage as they relate to human rights and democracy are promoted and strengthen the understanding of heritage and its relationship to communities and society.

Other conventions such as Valetta and Granada will also be referenced.

What has been done so far?

Since its official approval in April 2021, together with the other organizations members of the Committee, EAA, CIVILSCAPE, IDF, ECYC, EURODOC, Friends of the Earth and EEB, we:

  • organized 4 Committee’s meetings in 2021
  • supported and signed the letter “NGO concerns regarding the financing of the Bern Convention” addressed to the Delegates of the Contracting Parties to the Bern Convention
  • worked internally with our networks to increase awareness about the concerns regarding the financing of the Bern Convention and the future of its Secretariat
  • collaborated to the Preliminary draft on Recommendation on human rights and the protection of the environment  prepared by the Drafting Group on Human Rights and Environment (CDDH-ENV)
  • have started to create informal connections with the EHF (European Habitat Forum), EU NGOs platform
  • have started to analyze the communication’s work done and to be done by the Committee’s members on the relevant Conventions

Stay tuned: The Committee is very active and full of initiatives for 2022! You can find more resources and meeting notes on the website of the CoE here.