Look back on the Centralparks Final Conference – We did it!

On the 23rd and 24th of March 2022, the Centralparks project held its Final Conference. The Conference was organised in hybrid format: participants could join on-line via Zoom, as well as attend in-person in Wieliczka, Poland. We are more than happy to say, that the conference was a great success. Almost 40 speakers, and over 65 event participants in Wieliczka plus above 60 joining us online gave their time and resources to attend and to contribute.

A vision for the Carpathians

The conference was opened by Isidoro De Bortoli, the project´s coordinator from Eurac Research, together with Monika Ochwat-Marcinkiewitz, from the local organiser Ekopsychology Society, who welcomed the participants. Further introductory remarks for all participants were delivered by Roman Cherepanyn (Senior conservation expert, WWF Ukraine), Lukasz Rejt (Director of the Department of Nature Conservation of the Ministry for Climate and Environment of Poland) and Lubor Jusko (Joint Secretariat of the Interreg Central Europe Programme).

Following thematic speeches were held by Harald Egerer, (Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention), Przemysław Oginski (European Commission, DG Environment), Boris Erg (IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia), Andreas Beckmann (WWF Central and Eastern Europe) as well as Guido Plassmann (Alparc).

Following some very powerful speeches, the Centralparks consortium has presented the project outputs after three years of intense work:

  • Integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian region presented by Zbigniew Niewiadomski (Ekopsychology Society, Poland), Ewelina Zajac (Pieniny National Park, Poland), Bernadetta Zawilinska (Cracow University of Economics, Poland), Borbála Szabó-Major (Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate, Hungary), Zuzana Okániková (Pronatur, Slovakia), Marie Petru (VIS Bílé Karpaty, Czechia), and Roman Maňák (VIS Bílé Karpaty, Czechia).
  • Building capacities of Carpathian PAs managers presented by Borbála Szabó-Major (Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate, Hungary), Tibor Standovár (Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary), Soma Horváth (Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate, Hungary) and Ferenc Szmorad (WPT2 stakeholder).
  • Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit presented by Ján Kadlečík (State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic), Ján Černecký (State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic), Radoslav Považan (Pronatur, Slovakia) and Juraj Švajda (Matej Bel University, Slovakia).
  • Ingredients of good communication presented by Hanna Öllös (European Wilderness Society).

The final closing remarks of the day were provided by Harald Egerer and Przemysław Oginski.

Good practices in the Carpathians and beyond

On the second day, we also had the opportunity to get an overview of the projects SaveGREEN (Hildegard Meyer, WWF Central and Eastern Europe), DinAlpCONNECT (Filippo Favilli, Eurac Research), ConnectGREEN (Gabriella Nagy, CEEweb) and BEECH POWER (Marcus Waldherr, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development), presenting their good practice experiences focusing on sustainable development, related to the Carpathian region and beyond.

This workshop was followed by a moderated panel discussion, focusing on the opportunities of transnational cooperation and networking for an effective Protected Areas´ management beyond borders, and to inspire closer cooperation and exchange between protected area networks. The session explored the topics of Governance, Communication, Cooperation, Strengths and Weaknesses as well as Partnership within five protected area networks:

  • Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (represented by Mircea Verghelet, Director of Piatra Craiului National Park and Chair of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas Steering Committee)
  • Alpark (represented by Guido Plasmann, Director of Alparc, Alpine Network of Protected Areas)
  • DANUBEPARKS (represented by Georg Frank, Secretary General of DANUBEPARKS, Danube Network of Protected Areas)
  • Parks Dinarides (represented by Vladana Vojinović (Programme manager in Parks Dinarides)
  • Carpathian Wetland Initiative (represented by Ján Kadlečík, Coordinator of the Carpathian Wetland Initiative)

In the afternoon of the 24th of March, participants had the chance to visit the extraordinary UNESCO Wieliczka salt mine, its countless chambers and centuries of history. In parallel, the Steering Committee meeting of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas was held, on which the main conclusions of the Centralparks project, and the conference contents in connection to the future of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas were drawn up.

Thank you for your involvement!

Dear speakers, participants, organisers and all supporting in the background, thank you for having made this event a great success, which allowed us to look back on an exciting, eventful and successful three years of European cooperation in our Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Centralparks project.

During that time, three thematic work packages were implemented across Central Europe. Through the pilot actions and activities, a wide range of innovative tools and solutions were developed, implemented, communicated and disseminated at a local, regional and cross-border level.

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to each of you who participated in Centralparks Final Conference, as well as throughout the whole project implementation. You made Centralparks a success and it was a great pleasure to see so many of you accompanying our concluding steps!

Centralparks Scribble movies published

The Centralparks team offers to take you on a quick journey, to discover five ways how Centralparks contributes to harmonising biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathians. Watch our educational scribble videos below!

Protected areas and their wider landscapes

Local sustainable tourism in the Carpathians

Communicating Protected Areas

Carpathian Ecosystem Services

Building capacities of Protected Area managers

The Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit is available online!

Ecosystem Services are complex and interrelated ecological systems that support life and local development recalling attention on how people depend on a healthy environment for different purposes. They are the “benefits of nature directly or indirectly used by humans”.

The Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit, developed by Centralparks in five languages (EN, PL, SK, CZ and HU) aim to help managers to better understand and assess Carpathian Ecosystem Services as well as avoid or reduce conflicts in the Carpathian region and beyond.

You can access the Toolkit in all five languages under ‘Our achievements’!


How to educate the next generation to face the environmental challenges ahead?

More than 550 environmental education experts from around 50 countries, including representatives of Centralparks are coming together in Prague and online this week to participate in the 11th World Environmental Education Congress.

The Czech Republic is the first Central European country to host the congress in its nearly 20-year history. Its size makes it one of the largest educational conferences in the history of the Czech Republic.
The congress programme was jointly prepared by experts from Czech and foreign universities, eco-centres and other organisations involved in environmental education.

According to the main organizer of the event, Jan Činčera from the Department of Environmental Studies at Masaryk University, the programme was created as a joint project of a wide professional community and its preparation took almost three years.
The Congress is attended by government officials, as well as representatives of business and the non-profit sector. The hybrid form of the congress, which allows active participation of those participants who could not come to Prague, ensures the connection in the ongoing pandemic situation.

“Environmental problems, such as climate change, are not going to disappear from the world. We must find a way to educate children to be active citizens who are sensitive to nature and at the same time believe in the power of democracy to solve such problems.”

Jan Činčera, organiser of the World Environmental Education Congress

The programme of the congress consists of lectures by leading world experts, panel discussions and seminars aimed at sharing experiences and finding new ways for the theory and practice of environmental education. “Meetings like the World Congress on Environmental Education allow us to stop and reflect. Together we can figure out how this area of education should change to better respond to today’s complex and opaque world,” adds Chinchera.

Centralparks presenting at the 11th World Environmental Education Congress

The Centralparks team is present on the Congress in two fronts. Tomorrow at 13:00 we will present the Centralparks experience with the integration of biodiversity protection with environmental and sustainability education in and around Carpathian protected areas.

Moreover, the Cartoon illustrated youth poster developed by the project is accepted in the international poster session of the Congress.

Partners unite in the White Carpathians

On 2nd-3rd of March 2022, the Centralparks team had the chance to meet again in-person as well as online to evaluate the work done and prepare plans for the last month ahead. The partner meeting took place in the beautiful scenery of the town of Strážnice in the White Carpathians with online connection for partners joining remotely. The meeting was organised by the Czech partner Education and Information Centre Bilé Karpaty.

Project finalisation phase

On the 1st of April 2022, the Centralparks project will celebrate its 3-year birthday, and with it the end of the project. The month of March will be an important month for the partnership, with several milestones ahead. The two days spent jointly in the Czech Carpathians provided a good platform for partners to review the status quo of each work package, activities finalised and the last tasks ahead, including the final conference of the project.

With project activities finalised, it is worth to keep an eye on the project achievements, which is being continuously updated.

Project outcomes will be presented to the wider public on the 23-24th of March 2022, during the Centralparks Final Conference. The conference titled “Transnational cooperation for the sustainable future of the Carpathian region” will gather Carpathian experts to discuss the contribution of the Centralparks results to the sustainable future of the Carpathians and beyond.

Exploring links between landscape and cultural diversity in the White Carpathians

Fruitful discussions continued beyond the meeting room, as team members were taken on a journey through the landscape and cultural diversity of the Moravian Carpathians.

Cultural diversity of the Moravian Carpathians expressed in folk costumes

The participants of the meeting were guided through an exhibition of traditional folk costumes by Zlata Potyková from the National Institute of Folk Culture. This exhibition is located in the castle of Strážnice and displays models of folk costumes from a range of ethnographic regions in the Czech Republic. Ms Potyková not only described the different parts of the costumes, but also explained their development, functional use and symbolic significance. She pointed to the fact that folk costume diversity also reflects the natural conditions of each region, particularly in terms of material utilisation and farming methods in the countryside. Therefore, folk costumes as well as other elements of traditional folk culture interact with each other and also affect biological diversity.

Ecosystem services lesson

Based on the initiative of students of environment-oriented secondary schools and participants of round-table discussions of stakeholders of the Carpathians Convention, partners could experience first hand the ecosystem services lesson, which was compiled under the 3rd Thematic Work Package, developed by the colleagues of the Education and Information Centre Bílé Karpaty. The lesson targeting students between 14-18 is aimed to improve student cooperation while integrating elements of field research teaching as well as modern digital technologies.

Folk architecture as a reflection of the landscape

Similar to folk costumes, also folk architecture is a reflection of the natural conditions of a region. Examples of folk architecture from the region of south-east Moravia are presented in the open-air museum of Strážnice, where Ms. Potyková guided the participants. She introduced them to the different ethnographic regions and described the construction and utilisation of particular buildings. Karel Fajmon (Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech republic) completed the ethnographic interpretation by explaining the connection between diversity in folk architecture and differences in natural conditions. For example the use of local building materials (stone, timber, clay, straw) and the arrangement of buildings and land parcels in the landscape influence the scenery, farming methods and also have an impact on biodiversity.

Some impressions from the meeting and the excursion are gathered below.

Pilot implementation report of the Carpathian Strategy of biodiversity and landscape conservation surrounding Pieniny National Park published!

We are glad to share that the Pilot action completion report of the “Carpathian strategy for enhancing biodiversity and landscape conservation outside and inside protected areas” in areas adjacent to the Pieniny National Park (Poland) is newly available in Polish language on the national park´s website.

Pilot action completion report surrounding Pieniny National Park

The report summarises the implementation of the pilot action carried out under Centralparks. and presents, among others, recommendations resulting from the test implementation of the “Carpathian strategy for strengthening biodiversity conservation and landscape outside and inside protected areas” in areas adjacent to the Polish Pieniny National Park. The strategy and its implementation is part of the thematic 1st thematic work package “Integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian region”.

The surroundings of the Pieniny National Park were selected due to the constantly increasing investment pressure on the areas located within the Park boundaries and its buffer zone. The Pieniny National Park administration hopes that the presented report will draw the attention of a broader audience on the importance of preventing further adverse effects of increasing development pressures on the national park, its external buffer zone, and surrounding areas within the four municipalities involved. Moreover, it’s publication is also intended to help mitigate threats to the ecological connectivity and landscape values of the Polish-Slovak transboundary Pieniny region.

The pilot action was coordinated by the Centralparks partner Ekopsychology Society, in cooperation with the management of the Pieniny National Park and with the support and involvement of the local governments of the four municipalities where the buffer zone of the national park was designated, i.e. the municipalities of Czorsztyn, Krościenko nad Dunajcem, Łapsze Niżne and Szczawnica.

This report will soon be available in English under ‘Our achieviements’.

Our Carpathian cartoon illustrated posters are available online!

Check out our newest Carpathian posters! These posters highlight the natural and cultural values of Carpathian protected areas and are sure to make any classroom, library or other wall pop for the upcoming school months! The posters you see below are available in EN, CZ, PL, RO, HU and UA languages.

You can access them together with many other project material under the section ‘Our achievements‘.

For the printable versions, please contact info@wilderness-society.org

Consultations on the draft local strategy for the Magura region

On 9th December 2021 the representatives of local municipality authorities and Magura National Park administration, other relevant local stakeholders, and Centralparks experts on sustainable tourism met again at the national park education and visitor centre in Krempna (Poland).

The objective of this additional meeting (not originally planned, but possible due to budget savings made during the previous project implementation phases) was to consult the first draft of the “Strategy for the sustainable development of tourism based on the natural and cultural wealth of Magura National Park and its surroundings” with the members of the local partnership formed under the Centralparks project, involving seven municipalities sharing the national park external buffer zone.

The first draft of this community strategy already accommodates feedback and inputs gathered during the series of 4 thematic workshops, carried out in the Magura region in October 2021. This local strategy shall duly include selected activities recommended under all three dimensions (environmental, economic, and social) and corresponding three strategic objectives (further divided into nine operational objectives) of the draft “Strategy for local sustainable tourism development based on natural and cultural heritage of the Carpathians”, elaborated in 2019-2020 under the Centralparks project (in support for the implementation of the 2011 Protocol on Sustainable Tourism), submitted on 10th June 2021 for its official endorsement to the Parties of the Carpathian Convention. 
The local strategy for the Magura region shall be finalized by the end of January 2022, which will allow its integration with the new local development strategies for the period 2022-2030, to be elaborated and adopted next year by the 7 municipalities surrounding the national park.

Consultations in Krempna were jointly organized by the Ekopsychology Society* and the administration of Magura National Park, in the frame of the pilot action aimed at testing the above Centralparks draft strategy at the local and regional level, according to one of the priorities of the current Polish Presidency of the Carpathian Convention.

* Centralparks project partner, leader of the thematic work package No 1 “Integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian Region”.

Workshop on the newly developed Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit

On the 10th of November 2021, the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic and PRONATUR NGO jointly organised a workshop focusing on the Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit, developed within Centralparks. The workshop was hosted in hybrid format, with participants attending on-site in Bratislava as well as online.

Successful knowledge exchange

The experts of the PRONATUR, the Ministry of Environment and the State Nature Conservancy introduced participants to the theme of ecosystem services, and informed about development of the ES assessment in EU and Slovakia. J. Kadlečík presented in short the Centralparks project and the preparation of one of the project´s most important outputs, the Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit (CEST) elaborated in 2020-2021 by a designated transnational thematic task force. One of the main authors of the CEST Mr. J. Černecký of the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic presented the CEST itself, its content and main chapters. Mr. P. Mederly (Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra and PRONATUR NGO) provided an explanation of the step-by-step approach in the ecosystem services assessment process recommended in the CEST and some examples of ecosystem services assessment in Slovakia.

During the discussion (moderated by P. Semjanová) participants expressed the need for urgent ecosystem services assessment and data availability for the integrated evaluation of the benefits of ecosystem services, especially in national parks and other protected areas related to the planned transformation of nature conservation and administration in Slovakia. Moreover, participants urged the Ministry of Environment and other authorities to continue in the process of mapping and assessment of ecosystem services and speed up these activities. Generally the workshop received a positive feedback and participants expressed their interest in the theme and the CEST itself.


What are ecosystem services?

Ecosystem Services are considered to contribute to ecosystems (natural or semi-natural) and human prosperity (quality of life). Ecosystem services are dependent on natural resources such as soil, air, water, biodiversity and fauna, which are generally described as natural capital. Therefore, simply put, ecosystem services are the “benefits of nature directly or indirectly used by humans“. Through nature and its services, people meet a large part of their needs, in particular:

  • Basic resources needed for survival (food, water, raw materials …)
  • Adequate quality of the environment and its components (air, water, soil, biota and biodiversity …)
  • Socio-cultural superstructure (relaxation, education, spiritual values…)

What is the Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit?

The Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit in an interdisciplinary toolkit developed for managers and analysts, to support the effective assessment of ecosystem services in the Carpathians.

Within the Centralparks project, numerous experts from the Carpathian countries have worked on the Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit (CEST) which is intended to serve as both a guide and a valuable resource for the evidence-based decision-making as well as for the similar management practices not only in the Carpathian region but also in other European countries. It provides a practical set of procedures for understanding what might be gained or lost from a given management choice and the human dimensions of such effects. It can help managers to better comprehend and address potential issues and reduce conflict. As a separate deliverable developed within Centralparks, a step-by-step guidance document to complete a comprehensive ecosystem services assessment has been developed within the Toolkit. This includes guidance about the information, analysis, and process needed, using experience from similar ecosystem services assessments and will depend on what is required to address. 

The Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit will soon be published on the project website, stay tuned!

12th Meeting of the Carpathian Convention Implementation Committee and CNPA SC meeting

From 18th to 19th of November 2021, the Carpathian Convention Implementation Committee and the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention organized the 12th Carpathian Convention Implementation Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland.

The first day sessions focused on the Carpathian Convention ongoing and planned activities, included reports by the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (CNPA) Steering Committee Chair and a presentation of the Centralparks project main results and progress in the CNPA revitalization process. In order to seek synergies and potential for further networks, Centralparks project’s outputs, developed solutions and best practices were presented, together with other similar local initiatives and projects, during the joint session of the Carpathian Convention and the Centrum GRID/Warsaw.

The second day sessions focused on the updates on the Carpathian Strategy development process and on the strengthen of networks within the Carpathian Convention discussed during a workshop supported by the project “Strengthening the ESD network in the Carpathian Convention via science-policy-practice interface”.

The event hosted a CNPA Steering Committee meeting, with the aim to discuss and agree on the recommendations elaborated during the 3rd CNPA Conference in Visegrad, September 2021. It also offered a platform to present best practices of protected areas management and facilitate a dialogue on further enhancement of cooperation between and within the protected areas in the Carpathians and other regions. Conference attendees heard about the valuable outputs of Centralparks, received inputs from the Steering Committee Members of the CNPA and discuss about CNPA next steps planned by the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention. One of them is the preparation of the next CNPA event, that will be held in the framework of the Centralparks project final conference, in Wieliczka (PL) on the 23rd and 24th of March 2022.