Protected Areas: a key tool for protecting nature and promoting sustainable development

05 October 2010 | News story

The annual EUROPARC Conference and General Assembly takes place in a different European country each year, and brings together 500 professionals from protected areas, ministries responsible for protected areas and major European conservation organisations.  The 2010 EUROPARC Conference was held in Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise National Park, Italy from 29th September to 02nd October and resulted in the Pescasseroli Declaration 2010.

The Declaration called on upon National and Regional Governments and the European Commission to:

  • recognise and reflect in their policies, programmes and resource allocations the need to ensure biodiversity is maintained and ecosystem services secured for the future natural health and economic wealth of Europe.
  • to use the skills and experience built up in Protected Areas to pilot innovative approaches to integrated land use and sustainable rural development;
  • to integrate relevant public policies that will enable Protected Areas to better fulfil their role as management models with long established community engagement.

Knowing that protected areas are embedded in cultural and national identities and the biodiversity held within them is our fundamental life support system, the EUROPARC Federation urges appropriate investment in Europe’s protected areas to secure the ecosystem services of the future.

To read the full Declaration please see the download document.

Dr Hans Friederich, IUCN Regional Director for Pan-Europe chaired a number of presentations and a panel discussion on the morning of 30 September. Presenations included:

  • Sarrat Gidda from the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) presented the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas.  His main message was that the Convention can put forward the programme, but the implementation is the responsibility of the national authorities, and this will be particularly relevant after the 10th Conference of Parties that will take place in Nagoya, Japan in October this year. 
  • Harvey Locke, Vice President of the Wild Foundation made a plea for Europe to think about restoring some of its marginal lands into natural areas to create new wilderness areas, while protecting those parts of Europe that are still relatively untouched. 
  • Silvio Barbero, Vice President of Slow Food Italy explained that traditional farming practices took care of nature, and he urged for a change in our consumption patterns and in agricultural production, to ensure nature protection through low intensity agricultural practices. 
  • Jon Jarvis, the Director of the US National Park Service explained how his organisation is preparing to deal with Climate Change.  One of his key messages was the need for communication and education and he also stressed the need to build alliances with other interest groups, including farmers. 
  • Finally, Stefan Leiner, the Head of the Natura 2000 Unit in the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission presented the post-2010 biodiversity strategy of the EU, and stressed the importance of green infrastructure.

The presentations were followed by a vibrant interactive session with the participants.  For this session, EUROPARC President Erica Stanciu and Gerard O’Neill from Parks Victoria in Australia joined the panel.  Dr Friederich said: “it was particularly rewarding to facilitate a discussion between experts from different perspectives, but with a common interest in helping to protect nature and saving the future of our planet”
When summing up the mornings discussions, Hans Friederich highlighted the following main points:

  • The need to prepare for the CBD Conference in Nagoya and beyond.  Erica Mentioned the Pescasseroli Declaration that will be adopted by the conference (see link)
  • The need for funding, and opportunities for alternative financing through different sectors, public-private partnerships and philanthropy.  Mainstreaming biodiversity into other sectors was mentioned by all as a pre-requisite for success.
  • The need for further education, awareness and capacity building about the value of nature and the need for conservation both within the conservation community and in the wider world.  The fact that “nature” is a much simpler term that “biodiversity” was stressed, and participants were urged to promote the concept of “National Parks”.
  • How traditional knowledge can help with better management of nature, and ameliorating the conflicts especially between nature conservation and agricultural production.  Traditional knowledge also plays a key role in the management of protected areas.

The morning ended with EUROPARC President Erica Stanciu accepting the EuroMed Dialogue Award award of the Fondazione Mediterraneo.

Europarc Federation is a Member of IUCN.