Thematic workshops for local stakeholders in the Magura region

Action aims

A series of 4 thematic workshops for local stakeholders was held in October 2021 in the Magura region of Poland, in the frame of the Centralparks pilot action aimed at testing the draft “Strategy for local sustainable tourism development based on natural and cultural heritage of the Carpathians” at the local and regional level, according to one of the priorities of the current Polish Presidency of the Carpathian Convention.

The above draft strategy was elaborated in 2019-2020 under the Centralparks project in support for the implementation of the 2011 Protocol on Sustainable Tourism, and was submitted to the Parties of the Carpathian Convention on 10th June 2021. 

The Centralparks pilot action was carried out in 2021 in the buffer zone of Magura National Park. Its objective is to involve this protected area staff and relevant local stakeholders from the 7 municipalities in the joint elaboration and implementation of the local strategy for sustainable tourism development, based on the natural and cultural wealth of the shared region. 

Due to the proper timing of this activity, the resulting common local strategy can easily be integrated with the local development strategies for the new programming period 2022-2027, to be soon elaborated and adopted by the 7 municipalities surrounding the national park. 

The workshops

Thematic workshops held in October 2021 marked the next step in the pilot action implementation phase that commenced in June this year, when the local stakeholders attended a 3-day Centralparks preparatory workshop at the national park visitor center. 

Each workshop in October had a particular thematic focus: 

  • agritourism and local product (Nowy Żmigród, 5th Oct.)
  • education and heritage interpretation (Nowy Żmigród, 6th Oct.)
  • cultural and historical heritage (Krzywa, 7th Oct.)
  • branding and strategy management (Krzywa, 8th Oct.). 

Following this, the stakeholders’ inputs and feedback will serve to elaborate the Local Community Strategy for sustainable tourism development of the Magura region.       

The Ekopsychology Society* and the administration of Magura National Park jointly organized the workshops in Nowy Żmigród and Krzywa.

*Leader of the Centralparks thematic work package No 1 “Integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian Region”

Centralparks training in Poland

A training on “effective communication between protected areas and local communities in the Carpathians”, organized by the Ekopsychology Society, was held in Muszyna – Złockie (Poland) from 22nd to 24th September 2021.

Aims of the training

This event was attended by 13 trainees and marked the next phase of implementing the pilot action, which aims to test the usefulness of the “Guidelines on communication between protected areas and local communities in the Carpathians”. These were elaborated in 2019-2020 by the relevant multinational expert group (Thematic Transnational Task Force on Communication) established under the Centralparks WPT1. 

The main objective of the training was to raise the capacities, knowledge and skills of Carpathian PA managers and regional nature conservation authorities for effective communication with their local communities and stakeholders. The following thematic blocks were discussed:

  • the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians
  • stakeholder mapping
  • convictions that strengthen communication
  • communication tools
  • preparation of a letter to future generations concerning the idea of protecting biological and landscape diversity in the Carpathians.

Communication with the local stakeholders should be further strengthened under the Carpathian Convention. The involvement and closer cooperation at a local and regional level is not only encouraged by Decision COP6/2, paragraphs 1 and 2, but has also been declared as one of the two priorities of the new Polish Presidency of the Carpathian Convention in 2020-2023 (Decision COP6/24, paragraph 1).

Event success and acknowledgements

Trainees included representatives of the Regional Directorates for Environmental Protection in Katowice, Kraków and Rzeszów, Babiogórski National Park, Gorczański National Park, Magura National Park, Pieniny National Park and the Board of the Landscape Park Complex of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship. Participants had the chance to practice new skills and share their experiences from past communication activities and campaigns. They assessed the event as practical and found it was conducted at a high professional level and in a friendly atmosphere. 

The Ekopsychology Association would like to thank both the participants and the team of communication experts: Alina Marek, Agata Leśniara and Agata Ćwik, for their commitment. Monika Ochwat-Marcinkiewicz (psychologist and trainer) and Zbigniew Niewiadomski co-led the training on behalf of the Association.

*Leader of the Centralparks thematic work package No 1 “Integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian Region”

Local community workshops in Pieniny National Park

A series of 4 workshops under the common title “Strategy for the protection of biological and landscape diversity outside and inside Pieniny National Park”, organized by the Ekopsychology Society*, was held in Łapsze Niżne (6 September 2021), Czorsztyn (20 September 2021), Szczawnica (21 September 2021) and Krościenko nad Dunajcem (29 September 2021). 

What is behind these workshops?

This event marked the next phase of implementation of the Centralparks pilot action in Pieniny National Park, which aimed at testing the efficiency of the draft Carpathian strategy for enhancing biodiversity and landscape conservation outside and inside protected areas. It was elaborated in 2019-2020 under the Centralparks project by the relevant multinational expert group (Thematic Transnational Task Force) established under the Centralparks WPT1, in support for the implementation of the Protocol on conservation and sustainable use of biological and landscape diversity (Bucharest, 2008) to the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians (Kyiv, 2003) at the local and regional level, accordingly to one of the priorities of the current Polish Presidency of the Convention.

The above draft strategy was submitted on 7 July 2021 for the endorsement by the Carpathian Convention. It targets local municipalities, protected area administrations, local and regional level nature conservation and landscape protection agencies, bodies and authorities.

Pieniny National Park

Pieniny National Park, designated in 1932, forms the Polish part of the first European and world’s second transboundary protected area (established only a month later than the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park between Canada and the USA). The intention to designate such a crossborder nature park was inscribed into the Polish-Czechoslovak bilateral agreement, the 1924 ‘Krakow Protocol’. It stipulated “concluding, as soon as possible, a tourist convention” to facilitate the development of tourism in border areas of both above countries, and “a convention on a nature park” establishing areas restricted for the protection of cultural heritage, nature and landscape. Both ideas materialized decades later, with the adoption of the ‘Carpathian Convention’ in 2003, and its thematic Protocol on Sustainable Tourism (Bratislava, 2011).

Another objective of this Centralparks pilot action is to facilitate and support dialogue between the Pieniny National Park administration and the authorities of the 4 local communities located in its buffer zone. This would ensure the integrity of natural habitats and maintain the fragile ecological connectivity between this relatively small protected area (2,371.75 ha) and neighbouring larger natural complexes in the Carpathians. They are increasingly threatened by the rapid residential and recreational housing development in the national park buffer zone (2,653.8 ha). It requires a joint solution of potential land-use conflicts in several ‘problem areas’, successfully identified during the June workshop.

Identifying problems and solutions

54 participants attended the Centralparks 4 workshops in September, including: 

  • village heads
  • municipality mayors
  • municipal councilors
  • village leaders
  • school directors
  • employees of municipalities and the Pieniny National Park
  • representatives of local entrepreneurs and NGOs. 

The purpose of the workshops was to identify possible solutions for mitigating and preventing conflicts between biological/landscape diversity protection and local development. The following problems were identified among the most typical problem situations:

  • scattered housing development pattern interfering with wildlife migration corridors
  • lack of legal tools for effective construction law enforcement
  • still-increasing tourist pressure on fragile mountain ecosystems
  • pristine mountain landscapes spoiled by redundant and poorly designed roadside advertisements, as well as newly built settlements
  • pressure by large investors and developers on influencing the local spatial and land use planning process.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks go to the participants of the meetings, who’s presence confirmed the importance of the topics discussed for local communities. In the opinion of the participants, such workshops strengthen the dialogue between the protected area and the individual entities. We would also like to thank the team of experts: Monika Sadowska, Katarzyna Śnigórska, Ewelina Zając. Monika Ochwat-Marcinkiewicz and Zbigniew Niewiadomski were involved in preparing, coordinating, conducting and moderating the workshops on behalf of the Ekopsychology Society. 

*Leader of the Centralparks thematic work package No 1 “Integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian Region”