Training for Members: Youth Involvement in Protected Areas
Between the 18-21st March, 19 participants from 10 countries representing protected areas, regional and logal authorities, environment NGOs and youth gathered in Gut Siggen. Every year, thanks to the generous support of the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S., EUROPARC members have the chance to join the Siggen Seminar, a 2-day training on a topic relevant for the work of Protected Areas.
In 2019, following the launch of the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto,the seminar focused on youth involvement in Parks. Young people are the future of Protected Areas in Europe, but trying to get young people interested in the environment can be difficult as it involves changing perceptions and attitudes – something that requires a lot of time and effort. What are the needs and expectation of Young people? And how can Protected Areas address them?
Young people are looking for better access to the outdoor, for opportunities to live and start working in their rural and protected areas.
They are interested in social activities, international exchange and are willing to have fun together. They are also willing to contribute to make a change for a better future and to play a meaningful role in their Protected Areas. Still, they face difficulties in having their voice heard, in getting recognition and opportunities to act.
Protected Areas, on the other hand, have difficulties in involving young people mainly due to a different internal order of priorities – with youth not really at the top – and lack of resources and capacities. There is also the current attitude of society that doesn’t push young people to reconnect with nature, sending negative messages and overcrowding their agenda. Specific training for Protected Areas staff and toolkits would be useful.
The seminar was also an opportunity to:
- Review what is currently happening in terms of youth involvement in Protected Areas across Europe, especially within the Junior Ranger Programme and updates from the implementation of the Youth Manifesto
- Identify current needs, expectations, challenges and ambitions of Youth, Protected Areas and Rangers.
- Find out and propose solutions, review the current Educational programmes of EUROPARC, and brainstorm on new actions and initiatives
Participants had the chance to share their experience working with youngsters within the framework of the Junior Ranger Programm and the youth manifesto implementation:
Junior Ranger Programme – Presentations
- Youth involvement in Parks. Federico Minozzi, EUROPARC Federation.
- Youth Ranger Scheme. Tom Moses, Pembrokeshire Coast NP – Wales.
- National Junior Ranger program in Estonia. Kerli Koue, Environmental Board – Estonia.
- An educational program for sustainability with schools. Milene Matos – Portugal.
Youth+ and Youth Manifesto – Presentations
- New vision for the engagement of young people in a periurban park. Liesbeth El Bazi, Landscape Park Bulskampveld – Belgium
- The Zapovednaya Academy for Youth and the 2019 International Youth Congress. Victoria Kosmatova, Environmental Education Centre Zapovedniks – Russia
- The Youth Advisory Board. Leonardo Cerno, Prealpi Giulie Natural Park – Italy
- Next Generation vision. Jennifer Manning, Dartmoor National Park – England
- Implementing the Youth Manifesto: the experience of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Katy Foxford, Yorkshire Dales National Park – England.
Combining the expertise and experience of participants, and the will of the youth representatives, we looked at the further development of the Junior Ranger and Youth+ Programmes and defined a campaign to support the implementation of the Youth Manifesto.
The seminar was a successful initiative and on behalf of the Directorate, we would like to thank all participants for their contributions and insights. We look forward to the future development of EUROPARC Programmes and the Youth Manifesto. With your support, we will bring young people closer to parks and nature!