Ideas from the field – Siggen Seminar 2020

Ideas from the field …

… on how to improve policies and regional governance and help protected area managers adapt to a changing climate? 

Note: Below you will read a number of ideas that were gathered during the seminar. The purpose of publishing them here is for inspiration and discussion. They will be reviewed, evaluated and eventually fed into the work of the EUROPARC climate change task force. 

Improving the state of nature in Europe through wise and innovative land-use planning

Land-use zoning outside protected areas is an effective tool with a lot of potential to provide support and adaptation capacity for biodiversity inside the protected area network. High-end ecological decision support analyses can increase the effectiveness of land-use planning in minimizing harmful impacts of development and finding feasible trade-offs and identifying ecologically effective green infrastructure.

Along that same line searching for joint land assignments, developing multiple benefits strategies or developing green infrastructure and nature-based solutions are very promising ways to reverse nature loss and improve the quality and quantity of nature in Europe. 

From the climate change agenda perspective, observations point in the same direction. Nature and socio-ecosystems do not stop at the boundaries of existing nature reserves. Natural areas are influenced by surrounding areas and vice et versa and by abiotic factors such as water, temperature, air quality… Working on climate-proof nature and society should not only take place within nature reserves, but everywhere. Improving the “naturality” of cities, peri-urban areas, farmlands, … will strengthen natural values of entire territories including protected areas, improve connectivity to help species to migrate and ensure resilience against climatic extremes. 

On that topic, another idea is to focus on the goal of providing Beside protected areas, we could look into an approach that uses ‘other acceptable measures’, that are fitting within the IUCN definition of a protected area, to achieve the extension of nature areas around PA, and provide better connectivity – using agri-environment schemes, voluntary and community nature reserves, land covenants, etc.

For policy makers, esp. At a regional level, this means that the nature challenge has a strong relationship with other (transition) challenges, such as the transition in food and energy production, waste management, mobility, urbanisation, … It is very important to keep a constant attention to nature and promote the benefits of nature-inclusive adaptation measures to reach common goals. 

In any case, cooperation is essential at the regional level between governments, NGO’s, business and knowledge institutions. When such nature-inclusive solutions always take into account the enhancement of biodiversity within and in the surroundings of protected areas, this works through to the entirety of the climate resilience of nature. It’s a chance we have to take as nature managers!

Better integration of policies and frameworks is needed

There is an important quantity of frameworks related to climate change and biodiversity loss. In some cases, integration of policies is lacking, either horizontally, from supranational to local levels, or vertically eg. between sectors such as climate change, biodiversity, agriculture, economy, local development …  

New challenges also offer new opportunities for protected areas

Even when such an integration exists, protected area managers sometimes have little awareness about their relationships or the opportunities for financing and new collaborations. 

For example, as healthy habitats or ecosystems are more resistant and resilient to climate change and human impacts, “nature capital” studies could help local administrators understand that habitat loss means high costs and loss of value for human activities themselves. This could lead to the funding of more sustainable activities or the development of frameworks for payment for ecosystem services.

Stakeholder involvement must be a priority for nature conservation 

In general, environmental professionals would benefit from developing skills and techniques to engage with stakeholders. Alternatively, or in parallel, involving other profiles such as experts in communication, sociology, participatory processes would be beneficial and lead to the development of win-win solutions.

Case studies and examples should be published and shared

Sharing experiences is the best way to engage others. People prefer to learn from their peers, their equal. It is easier for a local politician to accept an idea from another local politician. The same applies to protected area managers, business developers, local inhabitants… Case studies are also very important in building confidence in new approaches and ideas. It is good to actually see that it works.

This idea of social validation should help us develop our stakeholder engagement strategies. 

Show the value of nature and protected areas

Stakeholders need to see the (potential) value to them of nature and protected areas.  When we seek support for nature improvement, conservation or restoration and for protected areas, we must advertise how it benefits communities. It is not all about money, benefits can also be symbolic, cultural, social.

Clear examples of nature-inclusive adaptation measures and how they benefit several sectors and actors are needed to encourage action and collaboration.

Make the effect of climate change concrete for stakeholders.
Making climate change ‘visible’ and the risks concrete will help in creating a sense of urgency and promote action (not only in politics, but also by citizens).