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Centralparks Final Conference – Transnational cooperation for the sustainable future of the Carpathian region

From 23rd - 24th March 2022, the Centralparks Final Conference “Transnational cooperation for the sustainable future of the Carpathian region” took place in Wieliczka, Poland.

Carpathian protected areas harbour precious old growth forests and important grass- and wetland habitats. They also provide many services local communities benefit from and are crucial areas for local sustainable development.

In the 21st century, effective management of protected areas poses a key challenge for biodiversity conservation in Europe and globally. Despite varying conditions, protected areas face similar threats, many of which can only efficiently be tackled through transnational cooperation. Global environmental processes, such as climate change, and various anthropogenic threats strongly pressure the Carpathian ecoregion.

The Centralparks project presented an integrated approach to harmonize biodiversity conservation with sustainable local socio-economic development and to build capacities for effective protected area management. The project was built on cross-sectoral collaboration, involving various interest groups, stakeholders, and the local public. The support of the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention further anchored the strategic approach of Centralparks also at a policy level, actively working together with national environmental ministries of the Parties to the Carpathian Convention.

Since its implementation in 2019, Centralparks has led an enriching cooperation between partners from Austria, Czechia, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Four Thematic Transnational Task Forces were set up on the key pressures driving biodiversity loss in the Carpathians, involving national experts and protected area managers from the Carpathian region. Their task was to develop strategic policy documents and tools that support the Carpathian region in the long term. Several pilot trainingand workshops were carried out to implement these strategies and to illustrate the practical relevance of its outputs making them accessible and useful not only for the Carpathian stakeholders but also to inspire and encourage similar audiences in other mountain regions of Central Europe and beyond.

Main project results:

Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation

Centralparks created a Thematic Transnational Task Force to jointly address issues concerning biodiversity and landscape conservation in the Carpathians. The Task Force developed the Carpathian strategy for enhancing biodiversity and landscape conservation outside and inside Carpathian protected areas.

The strategy addresses challenges and specific measures related to preservation, protection, restoration and sustainable use of species, natural and semi-natural habitats, as well as landscapes within protected areas and their surroundings. It aims to ensure ecological connectivity and to strengthen the ecological network in the Carpathian region.

 

Local Sustainable Tourism

Centralparks experts developed the Strategy for local sustainable tourism development based on the natural and cultural heritage of the Carpathians, which shall prevent and mitigate the negative impact of tourism on protected areas, the spatial concentration of visitors in the most vulnerable areas should be dispersed and channeled to nearby, ecologically less sensitive areas which can absorb and accommodate part of the tourism flows. This strategy addresses protection, sustainable use and awareness-raising of nature, landscape, and cultural heritage. At the same time, it aims to mitigate tourism pressure and reduce the impact on fragile mountain ecosystems and disparities in socio-economic development across the Carpathian region, supporting local economies through local tourism and local products.

Communications with Local communities

Cooperation with regional and local authorities as well as relevant stakeholders is essential to foster the protection and sustainable development of the Carpathians. Also, to ensure the wellbeing of current and future generations in the region. That is why Centralparks developed the Guidelines for communication between protected areas and local communities in the Carpathians.  These guidelines aim to bridge communication gaps between the two sides and to build strong partnerships for joint actions which benefit nature and local inhabitants.

Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit

The Carpathian experts developed the Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit, which serves as a guide for evidence-based decision-making. Together with a Step-by-step guidance document, the Toolkit provides a practical set of procedures to understand what might be gained or lost from a specific management choice and its social repercussions. It can help managers to better understand and address potential issues as well as avoid or reduce conflicts in the Carpathian region and beyond.

A Platform for Knowledge and Experience Exchange

The Centralparks aimed at providing a platform for knowledge and experience exchange among various stakeholders that play a key role regarding the future of the Carpathian protected areas.

Communication and dissemination of results is a crucial part of projects. Centralparks collaborated with various projects like the Interreg DTP projects like ConnectGREEN and SaveGREEN, DaRe to Connect, LIFE SWiPE, Connect2CE, CEETO, BEECH POWER, DANUBEPARKS, ALPARC, Parks Dinarides to name a few and organized various other projects and activities together with the Carpathian Convention with the common goal to raise awareness on the essence of Centralparks, its objectives and work. Furthermore, the Centralparks encouraged local communities to engage in nature protection and sustainable tourism initiatives in their region and to understand and support transnational cooperation regarding natural and cultural heritage protection.

Together for the Future of the Carpathians

The Centralparks outputs aim to support, facilitate and enhance the implementation of the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians and its thematic Protocols and also to foster the objective-achievement of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 “Bringing nature back into our lives”.

Following the last three years of collaboration, the Centralparks partnership expressed a strong commitment to further intensify the cooperation for joint Carpathian natural and cultural heritage, with the involvement of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (CNPA). It was a priority of Centralparks to activate the CNPA, facilitate knowledge exchange and encourage the CNPA to become a new leading example of a fruitful protected area network, not just in Europe but all around the world.

 

For further information, please visit the Centralparks project website: https://www.interreg-central.eu/Content.Node/Centralparks.html

 

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