One voice to protect Mountains, Wildlife and People in times of global change
Mountains play a key role for biodiversity protection and are essential for the well-being of people. However, these ecosystems have also raised a different kind of attention in the past decades, as they are considered a sentinel of climate change, as well as land use changes, pollution, among others. However, if the right decisions are made right now to strengthen the resilience of mountain ecosystems, these biodiversity strongholds can adapt to climate change and mitigate the worst of its effects.
The Mountain Biodiversity Day, organised on 13th January is hosted by the outgoing French Presidency of the Alpine Convention in cooperation with the French Presidency of the EU-Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP). The event is jointly coordinated by the Alpine Network of Protected Areas (ALPARC), the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention and the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention as well as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The one-day event will bring together experts and various representatives from mountain regions not just within Europe but all over the world, whose work is directed towards mountain biodiversity.
The open event will allow these experts to identify common challenges, share knowledge and experiences, and capitalise best-practice solutions from various regions. Centralparks will be presented in this event, as the project´s effort to enhance the management of protected areas in the Carpathians, is key to maintaining biodiversity here. We will present our multi-level cooperation approach to bring together stakeholders from local, regional, national and international levels within the Centralparks project. As an outcome of the event, a Joint message on the importance of protecting global mountain biodiversity will be developed and taken forward to global events such as the IUCN World Conservation Congress.
See the full agenda below, and join us in this lively discussion tomorrow, to help shape global priorities for mountain biodiversity protection!
Last week, the Centralparks consortium held its last partnership meeting of the year 2020. The online event was organised as a mid-term evaluation of the project progress, and was attended by representatives of the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Joint Secretariat, representatives of the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention as well as various Associated Partners of the project.
The aim of the meeting was to look back on the achievements and overall performance of the past 1,5 years of Centralparks, as well as to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of the project. This was a chance for the partnership to receive feedback from the Joint Secretariat about how to improve the planning, appraisal and implementation of project activities.
The mid-term review meeting was very valuable to draw initial lessons about project implementation and management, and to harmonise the project objectives. Every work package leader has presented their progress, reflected on challenges, and discussed planned activities together with the rest of the participants. This way, the meeting helped the partners in identifying and understanding in-depth the successes to date and problems that may arise in the next year, with special attention to the still very present Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, the event created the opportunity to provide the Centralparks Associated Partners with an external, objective view on the project status, its relevance, the effectiveness of its management, technical implementation and communication, and indication of whether the project is likely to achieve its objectives.
The meeting was also a good platform for the attendees outside the project consortium to provide to the Centralparks partners some recommendations for capturing additional opportunities, as well as for measures to overall improve the project performance for the remainder of the project duration.
The participants also touched on the subject of how to replicate the lessons learnt from project implementation to the the broader policy environment. Moreover, the deviations that have occurred in Centralparks’ work plan due to the Covid-19 outbreak have been discussed and various mitigation measures have been taken into consideration. Overall, the meeting was very fruitful, and the Centralparks team achieved great success in keeping the collaboration effective and strong over distance.
How can sustainable development and nature conservation be strengthened in the Carpathian region in the long-term? The roundtable meeting of the Steering Committee of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (CNPA) aimed to answer this question. The online meeting took place on the 2nd of December within the Interreg CE Centralparks project, made possible with the support of the Interreg DTP ConnectGREEN project as well as the Carpathian Convention.
The overall objective of the virtual gathering was to harmonize activities related to the CNPA, with special attention to the two ongoing projects sponsored by the European Commission, as well as the recent outcomes of the COP6.
The meeting was moderated by the interim chair of the Steering Committee of the CNPA, Mircea Verghelet, Director of the Piatra Craiului National Park in Romania. Opening remarks were made by Bożena Haczek, Polish Ministry of Climate and Environment, on behalf of Poland, holding the new Presidency of the Carpathian Convention. She expressed her gratitude to the Carpathian Convention Secretariat as well as the Centralparks and ConnectGREEN projects for supporting this meeting. It is the first Carpathian meeting within the Polish presidency after the successful COP6.
Furthermore, Mr. Harald Egerer on behalf of UNEP Vienna-Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention highlighted the important role of CNPA within the Carpathian region and the opportunity raised by the Centralparks and ConnectGREEN projects. He welcomed the nominated Steering Committee members and thanked them for their participation. The meeting provided the opportunity for a round of introductions by the new and already confirmed steering committee members, representing all Carpathian countries. Moreover, the projects Centralparks and ConnectGREEN were presented to identify the opportunities of support.
Jointly for the future of the Carpathians
Looking into the outcomes of the COP6, the CNPA has important tasks ahead in the field of biodiversity protection in the Carpathians but also on a global scale, contributing to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. Therefore, it is a priority to activate and fully realise the CNPA, to connect the institutional with the ecological networks and to work towards achieving that the CNPA becomes a new and leading example of a fruitful network of protected areas not just in Europe but all around the world.
Next year will be an important one for the CNPA. Upcoming activities include a second roundtable meeting of the CNPA Steering Committee within the 6th Forum Carpaticum, planned to be held in Brno, Czech Republic on 21-25 of June 2021 and the CNPA Conference organised within the ConnectGREEN final conference, to be held in Visegrád, Hungary, on 28-30 of September 2021. The Steering Committee also formulated its intention to intensify the cooperation between the Alpine, Danube and Carpathian regions, based on the Memorandum of Cooperation between the three networks ALPARC, DANUBEPARKS and the CNPA.
It was a very informative meeting providing a lot of inspiration to the Centralparks partners, encouraging us to continue with our efforts to contribute to a more sustainable Carpathian future.
The Carpathian Convention is a subregional treaty to foster the sustainable development and the protection of the Carpathian region. It has been signed in May 2003 by seven Carpathian States (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Ukraine). Carpathian Convention Conferences of the Parties are organized to strengthen bonds between the partners and to serve as a reminder about the goals of this Convention. This year brought a surprise, as the physical conference of the Carpathian Convention COP6 (initially scheduled on 14-16 September 2020 in Rzeszow, Poland) had to be cancelled and moved to the virtual format. Therefore, on the 25th of November 2020, the 6th Meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP6) will take place in the virtual realm.
This year at COP6, the 3-year Presidency of the Carpathian Convention will be handed over from Hungary to Poland. COP6 will create a platform to review the status of the implementation of the Carpathian Convention and will focus on harmonizing and strengthening sustainable development in the Carpathian region.
More information on the website of the Carpathian Convention:
11th meeting of the Carpathian Convention Implementation Committee
To prepare for this conference, the Carpathian Convention Secretariat organized the 11th meeting of the Carpathian Convention Implementation Committee (CCIC). It was held on 8th of October in online format. During this meeting, fruitful discussions and idea exchanges were summarized in the draft COP6 Decisions document. This document contains information on what the Carpathian Convention is seeking to achieve in the next years, what measures should they implement and what examples to use.
We are very delighted that Centralparks has been endorsed in theDecisions Draft, and called to make significant contributions to the protection of natural and cultural heritage of the Carpathians in two different categories: Conservation and sustainable use of biological and landscape diversity and Sustainable tourism. Regarding the conservation and sustainable use of biological and landscape diversity, Centralparks gives considerable support to the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (CNPA) activities, encourages CNPA and WG Biodiversity. Regarding sustainable tourism, the Carpathian Convention Implementation Committee takes note of the activities of the Centralparks project, especially the Strategy for Local Sustainable Tourism Development based on natural and cultural heritage of the Carpathians. The Secretariat encouraged the parties to contribute to and use the results of the Centralparks project accordingly. This is a great honour to the partners of Centralparks, highlighting the importance of our work.
Centralparks was recently presented to stakeholders in Slovakia, in the framework of a webinar about wildlife migration and ecological connectivity.
The webinar, organised jointly by the Interreg DaRe to Connect (D2C) project, the Ekopolis Foundation and the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic focused on ecological connectivity and introducing the basic principles of the management of ecological corridors. Moreover, it aimed at discussing its application in land use management and decision-making processes with special attention to Slovakia.
Although the discussion was originally planned physically, the online platform enabled almost 50 participants to attend, including representatives of state administration, municipalities, regions, ministries and other public institutions, who are authorised to make decisions about land use and are approving activities that influence animals migration and ecological connectivity. Furthermore, various Slovak experts in landscape ecology, landscape and municipal zoning and ecology were present.
The webinar mainly targeted the geographical space between the Green Belt and the Small Carpathians Hills, which is one of pilot regions of the D2C project. The lineup of projects presented were DaRE to Connect, Centralparks, ConnectGREEN and TransGREEN, which were also the main organisers of the recently held Green Carpathians webinar.
Presentations were followed by lively discussions, moreover, the success of the webinar inspired participants to agree on organising follow-up online and offline consultations targeting the specific geographical regions.
On the 25th of September 2020 in course of the EU Green Week, the webinar ‘Green Carpathians’ took place, organised by the project consortium of Interreg CE Centralparks, together with the Interreg DTP projects TransGREEN, ConnectGREEN, the recently launched projects Interreg DTP SaveGREEN and LIFE SwiPE, as well as the Carpathian Convention.
The keynote presentation was held by Harald Egerer, Head of UNEP Vienna office Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention, who welcomed all speakers and participants of the webinar, and introduced the biodiversity hub and of the Danube-Carpathian region. He also gave an insight into the policy framework of the Carpathians and its integration with the EU Policy framework.
The second presentation, conducted by Gabriella Nagy from CEEweb for Biodiversity, concentrated on the introduction of the ConnectGREEN project, focusing on ecological corridors mapping and management, and spatial planning in the Danube-Carpathian region. Next, Isidoro De Bortoli, project coordinator from Eurac Research and project manager of Centralparks presented the Centralparks project and potential opportunities and role of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas in the project. Following, Hildegard Meyer, project coordinator from WWF Central and Eastern Europe gave a presentation of the TransGREEN and SaveGREEN projects, the issue of habitat fragmentation and the importance these projects in ensuring Carpathian connectivity. Last but not least, Roselina Stoeva from WWF Bulgaria and project manager of the recently started LIFE SwiPE project introduced the importance of increasing the effectiveness of wildlife crime prosecution across Europe.
The webinar was moderated by Irene Lucius, Regional Conservation Director of WWF Central and Eastern Europe. The rich agenda covered biodiversity protection in the Danube-Carpathian region from a variety of perspectives, and featured and interesting exchange with participants. It created an opportunity to learn more about the natural values of the Carpathians and the main threats to their biodiversity, provided a platform to be inspired by previous initiatives and go into fruitful discussions about tasks for the near future.
Download the presentations and watch the recording below:
The registration is now open for the Green Carpathians webinar, held in the framework of the EU Green Week. It will take place on Friday 25 September, from 11am CET!
This webinar will be focusing on transnational cooperations to address the biggest threats to the biodiversity of the Carpathian Mountains. Participants will learn more about the most ambitious Carpathian projects focusing on the protection of Carpathian biodiversity, including the Interreg projects TransGREEN, Centralparks and ConnectGREEN, as well as the recently launched Interreg SaveGREEN and LIFE SwiPE.
The webinar will be held in English over the Zoom platform. Don’t miss out, register here (registration is mandatory for this webinar)!
Following the introduction of safe preventive anti-epidemic measures in the Czech Republic, the Centralparks partner Education and Information Centre of Bílé Karpaty Mountains (VIS) was able to respond safely to the demand for excursions from the public.
During the months of May, June and July, VIS organized a total of 9 excursions within the Bílé Karpaty (White Carpathians) Protected Landscape Area, for example to the nature reserve Drahy, as well as to the national nature reserves Zahrady pod Hájem and Čertoryje for various target groups. Visitors had the opportunity to see the cultural landscape of Bílé Karpaty, its characteristic fauna and flora, especially the colourful wildflower meadows with blooming orchids, which offer a unique sight in this period. The main target group consisted of interested public, as well as teachers and local guides. Participants also learned about the Centralparks project, the focus of its actions in the Czech Carpathians and the role of VIS.
The Carpathians are a centre of biodiversity in Europe. Although they contain a high amount of natural and cultural heritage, the general public still only has a little insight about the often hidden or overlooked beauty of this unique mountain range. Today, on the World Environment Day, it is worth to take a look into how the forces of the Earth have shaped the Carpathians and understand more about the uniqueness of their ecosystems underlined by the large amount of protected areas and protected area networks along this mountain system.
Geology and geomorphology
The Carpathian Mountains stretch across a large part of Central and Eastern Europe. They start in Slovakia and then go east, while expanding their width to reach the Czech Republic and Poland to the north, as well as Hungary to the south. Then they curve in south-eastern direction, passing the Ukraine to the east. There, they turn southwards and cross Central Romania and end in Serbia, close to where Danube intercepts them at the Iron Gate. The Carpathians are the second largest mountain range in Europe, right after the Alps, and are 900 km long. The highest peak of this majestic mountain range is Gerlachovský štít (2655 m) in Slovakia, in the High Tatras. In addition to the High Tatras, the Carpathians reach high altitudes also in Romania with multiple peaks over 2500 m.
The Carpathians are divided into the Western Carpathians in Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary and Poland, where the north half are the Outer Carpathians and the south half are the Inner Carpathians. Towards the east, the Eastern Carpathians are again divided into Outer and Inner, following the line of their western counterparts in Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and Romania. The Southern Carpathians, Western Romanian Carpathians and Transylvanian Plateau are in central Romania, where the mountain ridges turn again towards the west. The southernmost part of the Carpathians are the Serbian Carpathians.
Despite almost touching the Alps that start just on the other side of the Danube valley in Austria, the Carpathians differ in multiple ways from their famous neighbour. During the recent ice ages, the Alps were largely covered in ice, while within the Carpathians only the highest peaks were glaciated. This led to very different relief forms, as the Carpathians were shaped principally by water rather than ice. Therefore, the typical glacial features, such as U-shaped valleys, cirques or moraines, are rare in the Carpathians. The most common rock in the Carpathians is flysch, which is only present in a narrow strip in the Alps. However, both mountain ranges formed rather recently during the Alpine orogeny, about 100 million years ago in the late Mesozoic. They both emerged because of the collision between the African and the European tectonic plates. As a result of this collision that pushed the rocks upwards, nowadays we can enjoy the beautiful mountain peaks of the Carpathians.
The geology and geomorphology of the Carpathians and the evolution of flora and fauna in the glacial periods and post-glacial era led to an exceptional biodiversity in this region. They encompass the largest forests in natural state in Central and Western Europe, and the biggest area of original European beech forests located mostly in the Southern and Eastern Carpathians. It is still possible to find areas of forests, where human impact is minimal and where primeval and native forests have the chance to develop naturally. The most significant forest communities of the Carpathians are floodplain, fen and bog forests, beech and mixed beech forests with fir and spruce as well as with sporadic stands of yews, oak-hornbeam forests, spruce and fir-spruce forests, scree forests and pine forests.
Since ancient times, man has been present in the Carpathians and contributed to the development of non-forest habitats, that would have otherwise stayed covered by extensive forests. Naturally, non-forest habitats mostly only occur above the tree line, which is about 5% of the total area of the Carpathians. However, through human influence, entirely new plant compositions were formed in the expanding grasslands. These grasslands provide a home for rich biodiversity, and the impact on some non-forest habitats was considered positive. However, with the start of large-scale agricultural production, mechanisation, intense fertilisation and a race to cultivate more profitable plant species in order to meet the increased demand, the destruction to species diversity increased disproportionately.
Another valuable, but rarer ecosystem of the Carpathians is represented by wetlands. Beside their importance from the perspective of biodiversity conservation, they also provide a wide variety of unique ecosystem services that are essential for humans. These habitats include aquatic habitats, riparian vegetation, wet grasslands, peatlands, wetland forests, springs and subterranean wetlands. The biggest danger in the conservation of these wetlands is posed by human-induced changes in the hydrological regime.
Protected areas of the Carpathians
The Carpathians are strongholds of biodiversity, home to about one-third of all European vascular plant species, the most significant areas of primeval forests and the largest remaining European populations of large carnivores. Carpathian protected areas serve to protect and conserve the outstanding natural and cultural values of this mountain system. These protected areas include the most unique habitats of forests, mountain grasslands and wetlands.
National parks can be found in all Carpathian countries. Other types of protected areas in the national systems include Protected Landscape Areas, landscape parks, National Nature Reserves, Nature Reserves, National Nature Monuments, Nature Monuments, Forest Reserves, Protected Sites and Protected Landscape Elements.
The five EU-member states, within which the Carpathians are located, also include Natura 2000 sites, which comprise Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated respectively under the Habitats Directive and Birds Directive. Moreover, according to the Ramsar Convention, 12 Carpathian sites have been included in the Wetlands of International Importance.
The biggest changes in the ecosystems of the Carpathians occurred because of human activities. Due to climate change, habitats are changing, and species diversity is declining. Unsustainable mass tourism and the cultivation of various plants and animals contributed to the introduction of invasive species into natural habitats. Air and water pollution, infrastructure development, the abandonment of the traditional methods of farming and a lack of understanding of the sustainable use of Carpathian ecosystem services have an increasingly negative impact on the biodiversity of the Carpathians. It is necessary to prevent the further fragmentation of Carpathian habitats and to improve ecological connectivity and continuity of habitats in the Carpathian landscape.
The most appropriate way of protecting Carpathian nature is through coordinated action. Centralparks brings together partners who are passionate about the preservation of Carpathian biodiversity. The Centralparks project focuses on integrating comprehensive approaches to conservation, planning and management of natural resources and cultural landscapes. Centralparks facilitates transboundary cooperation to improve management capacities of Carpathian protected areas both for the benefit of biodiversity and for the prosperity of Carpathian communities.
On Friday, April 17th 2020, an online synergy meeting was held between partners of projects Centralparks and CONNECT2CE. The aim of this online meeting was to address some of the main aims of CE projects: exchange views, establish partnerships and capitalize on results.
This meeting’s specific aim was twofold. Firstly, to present the projects and share knowledge about project objectives and results. Secondly, to identify common problems and to think about possible future collaborations.
The CONNECT2CE project focuses on tackling the weak accessibility of regional, peripheral and cross-border areas of Central Europe to and from main transport networks and hubs, which is caused by the long lasting phenomenon of urbanisation. The project, which will to be concluded in May 2020, elaborated harmonised and coordinated transnational strategies, action plans and tools to be mainstreamed and implemented at regional as well as cross-border level, also through pilot actions in three thematic areas.
One of the main goals of Centralparks is to integrate biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian region. One policy document developed in the framework of the project is a strategy for local sustainable tourism development based on natural heritage of the Carpathians, for which the connectivity and accessibility of protected areas and the management of tourism flows are of paramount importance.
Following a short introduction of both projects, an in-depth discussion was held amongst participants, covering a number of topics, which encompassed also sustainable tourism. Among these were the role of sustainability in the transport sector and the role of sustainable public transport solutions to make protected areas more accessible. Moreover, the necessity to support sustainable travel within and between protected areas was discussed. Participants also referred to the involvement of administrations of natural and cultural sites and local communities in creating attractive public transport offers.
Overall, the first synergy meeting organized by Centralparks was successful due to the kind commitment of the representatives of the CONNECT2CE project. It was very fruitful to share useful information and creating synergies among these projects. The final conference of CONNECT2CE will be held online on the 28th of May 2020 during which Centralparks project partners are honoured to be able to participate.
For more information on the CONNECT2CE project, click here.