Meeting between Centralparks and BEECH POWER to discuss possible synergies

On Monday 6th of September 2021, an exciting online meeting between the Interreg projects Centralparks and BEECH POWER took place online, with the objective to discuss possible synergies between the two projects.

After a brief presentation of the background, goals, deliverables and outputs of each project, it became clear that both Interreg projects have many similarities and can support each other during and beyond the duration of the projects.

Centralparks aims to improve the management capacities of protected areas in the Carpathians through transnational cooperation to support nature protection and local sustainable development. Similarly, BEECH POWER project works to improve integrated environmental management capacities for the protection and sustainable use of UNESCO Natural World Heritage beech forests, also aiming to support sustainable regional development. In addition, transnational cooperation is a key aspect in both projects, where multiple component parts, local authorities, and stakeholders from different countries are involved.

During the meeting, representatives of both projects agreed on developing mutual collaborations to help each other reach planned targets through promotion activities. Further, both projects will share relevant documents and outputs, like the BEECH POWER Code of Quality Management for UNESCO WH Beech Forests, as well as the Centralparks strategies and the Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit via the Knowledge exchange platform developed by BEECH POWER. Such documents and strategies may be relevant and applicable in the Carpathians, UNESCO WH Beech forest site and beyond.

Finally, Centralparks invited BEECH POWER to a brief meeting between representatives of the two projects during the next Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (CNPA) meeting, scheduled on the 29th of September 2021. Furthermore, in the final conferences of both projects, there will be some space dedicated to promote synergies in the future work, exceeding the project lifetimes!

Centralparks meeting in Czechia

Meeting of Stakeholders of the Carpathian Convention

On the 16th of September, the Czech partners of the Centralparks project are organising an important event – the Meeting of Stakeholders of the Carpathian Convention 2021. The gathering will take place from 16th to 17th September in Nová Lhota in the White Carpathians, Czechia. The event is held regularly every year under the auspices of the Ministry of the Environment, it is co-organised by the Education and Information Centre Bílé Karpaty and co-financed by the Interreg Centralparks project. Many stakeholders from ministries, regional and local authorities, academia, NGOs as well as active citizens from the region will participate in the meeting.

The programme includes lectures, discussions and sharing of experience and best practices. The participants are updated about recent developments of the Carpathian Convention and ongoing projects and activities at both international and national level. The main topics of this year will be biodiversity, ecosystem services, tourism, and nature and landscape protection. An excursion to an organic farm in Blatnička will be organised on the second day.

During the meeting, two important deliverables, elaborated within the Centraparks project, will be presented. First, Jan Kadlečík (State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic) will present the usage of the Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit, developed within the project. Second, Barbora Duží (White Carpathians Education and Information Centre) will present the Strategy for local sustainable tourism development.

Meeting agenda (in CZ):

How Centralparks uses LiDAR

The LiDAR survey is a method of the 3D scanning procedures and sensory remote sensing technologies. Here is how and where Centralparks partners use it.

How Centralparks uses LiDAR?

Centralparks partners use LiDAR in the selected pilot area to measure the distance with the use of laser rays from a plane. Scientists point these lasers in the direction of the Earth-Centerpoint to surface modeling from the generated point-cloud. 

With the current instruments (e.g. Leica), we are collecting the part-reflection of the discharged pulse. This allows us to obtain information from the absolute route of the given bunch. 

Different part-reflections from the given bunch, however, can be aggregated separately through the first (canopy level), the lowest (ground level) and the reflections in between. Such method is unique in that it allows for the reflection from the different heights to be aggregated and filtered. It is for this reason, why we can prepare a surface model (from the closest points – DSM) and a digital relief model (from filtering the furthest reflections – DEM) from just one measurement.

Where exactly are we piloting LiDAR?

Centralparks partners implement LiDAR laser scanning technology in the south of the Kemence-river’s valley. This valley is often called the ’central volcanic area’. It covers most of the planned ‘A zone’ (according to the IUCN criteria); the Szent Mihály-mountain’s block and the smaller part of the Ipoly-valley (for testing purposes).

Achieving bigger goals with LiDAR

Our primary goal is to make time-series comparison of the development of forest cutting and monitoring of natural disturbance. Another usability of the gained data, however, is that it allows for prediction of species. Such prediction is based on the collected biotic data and modeling procedures. Furthermore, with the fine resolution relief models, Centralparks partners can also map the archeological pieces of evidence. These, for example, include soil castles and mines. 

The vegetation or tree heights models are very important qualities behind habitat desciption. They help to indicate the unnatural stands, while also capturing the young stands. Moreover, with the LiDAR method, we can also dig into the the inner structure of the wood stands. These include the presence of the shrub éevel and the heights of the dominant canopy. All this data is crucial when it comes to protecting forests in that it allows for better forest management planning. 

Last but not least, to plan the future water management and water retention – with the use of LiDAR we also prepared flooding models for the Ipoly river valley (see the below image). To learn more about LiDAR methodology read our previous deliverables and outputs here.

2nd CNPA Steering Committee Round Table

On the 19th of July 2021, the 2nd CNPA (Carpathian Network of Protected Areas) Steering Committee Round Table took place. Here are the key updates concerning the Interreg Central Europe Centralparks project and its thematic work package updates that have been shared with the CNPA Steering Committee.

1st Thematic Work Package: Integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian region

  • On 10th June this year, the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention has officially submitted the strategy for local sustainable tourism development, based on the natural and cultural heritage of the Carpathians, on 7th July 2021.
  • Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention has submitted the draft Carpathian strategy for enhancing biodiversity and landscape conservation outside and inside protected areas to the Carpathian Convention parties.
  • Under the frameworks of two strategies, Centralparks also ran two pilot actions in Poland, in Pieniny National Park and Magurski National Park. During the successful meetings in these parks in June 2021, several important stakeholders expressed their willingness to cooperate with the WPT1 leader.

2nd Thematic Work Package: Building capacities of Carpathian protected areas managers

  • The preparation of the 3rd part of the background documentation is currently taking place. It will include the results on habitat mapping, forest and grassland state evaluation, LiDAR, Forest fauna evaluation. The partners and transnational thematic task forces (TTTF) members will then prepare the final output.

In the meantime, however, Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate (DINPD), in the area of the Börzsöny Mountains, has supervised several forest management plans. DINPD determined 3,000 survey points.

3rd Thematic Work Package: Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit

The final proposal of the Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit (CEST) has been now finalised. Furthermore, Centralparks partners have also finalised and distributed the shortened version for translation to other Carpathian languages.

Out of the key ongoing tasks, there is currently the development of the annex to CEST on the ecosystem services’ capacity in the Carpathian region. It will produce the step-by-step guide for using the CEST. Additionally, it will be delivered alongside the training programme for local and regional authorities.

Upcoming international conference with important CNPA contribution

CNPA is currently actively contributing to the international conference ‘Protected Areas – cornerstones of ecological connectivity in the Carpathians and beyond’. Main topic of this event is ‘Ecological connectivity inside and outside Protected Areas‘.

The conference will take place between 28-30 September 2021 in Visegrad, Hungary. Given the current pandemic situation, it will also be possible to join the meeting online.  If interested to take part, please submit your registration for the conference until 15th of September 2021.

This conference will offer the participants to:

  • Learn about recent developments in the Carpathians;
  • Raise awareness on the need for cross sectoral approaches for the identification, conservation and restoration of ecological connectivity in Carpathians and beyond;
  • Serve the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas members to get together, exchange knowledge and experience, hear about new methods and approaches to improve and safeguard ecological connectivity;
  • Offer space for cross-sectoral discussion, as improvement of ecological connectivity needs more spatial planning, agriculture,forestry, transport etc.
  • Foster collaboration between projects dealing with ecological connectivity.

Closing Carpathian Quiz – announcing the winners!

From 1st of June to 19th of July, Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE project Centralparks ran an educational Quiz on the Carpathian region. In the last two weeks, the results were finalised and winners – announced. What an excellent digital event this has been! 

What was the quiz about?

The Centralparks Quiz included 17 questions. The basis of these questions consisted of geographical and biological aspects concerning the region.

Besides that, however, another key aspect of the Quiz featured the Centralparks project itself. This, in turn, was done to facilitate knowledge on both tasks and expected outcomes, performed in this project. Consequently, general public was able to obtain an important information on the general essence of Centralparks and the ideas behind it.

Some interesting insights

  • The Quiz question that received largest number of correct answers was:

4. What is the highest peak in the Carpathians?

A. Moldoveanu peak in Romania

B. Rysy, on the border of Poland and Slovakia

C. Gerlachovský peak in Slovakia

D. Vysoká peak in Slovakia


Correct Answer: C. Gerlachovský peak in Slovakia

  • The Quiz question that received smallest number of correct questions was:

13. To safeguard all the above species within their respective protected areas, The Interreg Centralparks project has been created. Its key aim is to facilitate knowledge exchange between the Carpathian protected area managers. Why do you think this has to be done?

A. To share the best protection-related practices

B. To raise awareness about the protected areas

C. To improve management capacities of Carpathian protected areas

D. All of the above

Correct Answer: C. To improve management capacities of Carpathian protected areas

! Notably, all other questions related to Centralparks project were answered correctly in over 70% of cases. Consequently, this means that the participants have improved the knowledge of the Centralparks objectives as they proceeded with the Quiz.

Overall, out of 50 Quiz submissions, the average rate of correct questions was­­­­­­­ over 80%. This is a great number, as it shows the already existing knowledge, that the general public holds of the Carpathians and its treasures. By improving and spreading this knowledge further, it will be possible to truly preserve the greatest magic of this region!

Announcing the winners

By using random generator, Centralparks partners have selected 10 winners. All winners have been already issued their prizes, prepared earlier by the Centralparks partners.

Big congratulations go to the following winners:

Czech Republic:

Petra Horáčková

Ondrej Vitek

Slovakia:

Paulina Feriancova

Erik Harman

Peter Hrubovský

Tomáš Rovný

Hungary:

Zalaba Ádám

András Zágon

Albert Csilla

Poland:

Mieczysław Bętkowski

! And, of course – big congratulations likewise go to all other people, who have taken part in the Quiz and whose names, alongside their greatest Carpathian poems, we are promoting below.

Centralparks workshop in Pieniny National Park, Poland

A workshop “Strategy for the protection of biological and landscape diversity outside and inside Pieniny National Park”, co-organized by the Ekopsychology Society (leader of the Centralparks thematic work package No 1 “Integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian Region”) and the administration of Pieniny National Park was held in Krościenko nad Dunajcem (Poland) on 28-30 June 2021.    

What is behind this workshop?

This event marked the next phase of implementation of the Centralparks pilot action in Pieniny National Park, aimed at testing the efficiency of the draft Carpathian strategy for enhancing biodiversity and landscape conservation outside and inside protected areas, elaborated in 2019-2020 under the Centralparks project 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, targeted at local municipalities, protected area administrations, local and regional level nature conservation and landscape protection agencies, bodies and authorities shall soon be submitted for the endorsement by the Carpathian Convention.

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’, which 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 above ideas materialized over 80 years later, with the adoption of the ‘Carpathian Convention’ in 2003, and its thematic Protocol on Sustainable Tourism (Bratislava, 2011).

Centralparks pilot action and further thoughts on workshop

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

Hence, the purpose of the Centralparks workshop in June 2021, attended by 20 participants (including the experts from Pieniny National Park, the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Kraków, and the Board of the Landscape Parks Complex of the Małopolska Region) was to prepare a series of meetings with the local stakeholders in each of the 4 ‘gateway’ municipalities, planned for September and October 2021.

Expressing gratitude

We would like to thank Mr. Michał Sokołowski, the Director of the Pieniny National Park, other national park employees and workshop participants for their commitment during the meeting (and also for guiding us during the field visit in the picturesque national park buffer zone).

Workshop participants during a site visit to NP buffer zone area, guided by NP staff, location: Sromowce Nizne (at PL bank of Dunajec river), background: Mt. Trzy Korony / Three Crowns (982 m asl).

Centralparks workshop in Magura National Park, Poland

A workshop “Strategy for the sustainable development of tourism based on the natural and cultural wealth of Magura National Park and its surroundings”, co-organized by the Ekopsychology Society (leader of the Centralparks thematic work package No 1 “Integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian Region”) and the administration of Magura National Park was held in Krempna (Poland) on 21-23 June 2021.  

What is behind this event?

This event, attended by 30 participants, marked the next phase of implementation of the Centralparks pilot action in Magura National Park, aimed at testing the usefulness of solutions proposed in 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 Protocol on Sustainable Tourism (Bratislava, 2011) 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. 

Strategy for local sustainable tourism development based on natural and cultural heritage of the Carpathians

The above strategy, addressed solely to the local level public authorities and stakeholders (e.g. municipalities, protected area administrations, and local Destination Management Organizations) aims at enhancing the contribution of tourism to the sustainable development of the local economy in the Carpathian region, and lowering the impact of tourism on the fragile mountain ecosystems in the most ecologically sensitive areas (part of which is protected in national parks) by redirecting and channeling part of the tourist traffic to municipalities located in protected area buffer zones. The draft Centralparks strategy concerning local sustainable tourism development was submitted in June 2021 for the endorsement by the Carpathian Convention.

The purpose of the Centralparks workshop in June 2021 was to bring together the most relevant and active local stakeholders, form an efficient local partnership, and prepare a series of 4 thematic workshops (planned for October 2021) for the elaboration of a local strategy for sustainable tourism development based on the natural and cultural wealth of Magura National Park and its surroundings.  

Magura National Park

Some of the workshop participants during a site visit to the National Park area, guided by Park staff © Zbigniew Niewiadomski

Magura National Park constitutes the main tourist attraction of the region targeted by this Centralparks pilot action, harbouring both natural areas and numerous cultural heritage monuments, providing for its high potential for tourism development, although not yet fully discovered and seriously damaged by mass tourism. The national park invests considerable funds (from both in-country and external sources, e.g. Interreg Poland-Slovakia) in the development and maintenance of hiking trails, nature paths, cycling and horse-riding routes, along with accompanying infrastructure (e.g. bridges, signposts, rain shelters in rest areas, car parks and bicycle stands, information boards) as well as preserving the historical and cultural heritage of the region (e.g. renovation of chapels, roadside crosses and cemeteries, placing interpretation panels in sites of the former, no longer existing villages).

More on the workshop

During the workshop in Krempna the representatives of Magura NP administration and local communities jointly assessed the current state of tourism development in 7 ‘gateway’ municipalities surrounding the national park, carried out a SWOT analysis, identified and inventoried their local assets (incl. local products and tourist attractions) perceived as specific local competitive advantages for the sustainable tourism development. NP employees presented and analyzed data deriving from the tourist traffic monitoring carried out since 2005, and informed on the new investments in tourism infrastructure planned by the national park administration in the coming years (e.g. lookout towers and historical heritage interpretation points).

Monika Ochwat-Marcinkiewicz, representing the Centralparks partner Ekopsychology Society © Zbigniew Niewiadomski

Further steps

In the course of the workshop Mr. Norbert Kieć, Director of Magura NP expressed the readiness of the national park administration to coordinate the implementation of the future joint local strategy, while several community mayors expressed the willingness to conclude a partnership agreement with the NP concerning the above local initiative.

Discover the Danube today

Today we commemorate the International Danube Day, one of Europe’s largest river systems. This year the motto is “Discover the Danube”. Read more about the activities that take place on this occasion in your country and in the world.

The Danube-Carpathian region

The Danube is the world’s most international river, as it flows from Germany, through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine before it reaches the Black sea. It is home to priceless natural treasures. Over 2,000 plant species and 5,000 animal species live in or by the waters of the Danube, a habitat which hosts about 2,000 vascular plants and approx. 100 fish species.

The Carpathian Mountains and its foothills are a source of thermal and mineral waters. The Danube River separates the Carpathian Mountain ranges from the Alps. Several plains surround the Carpathians including the Galician Plain in the northeast; the Pannonian Plain in the southwest and the Lower Danubian Plain in the south.

The Danube-Carpathian region harbours many species and habitats that are either threatened or close to extinction in the rest of Europe, such as large natural and virgin forests, most of Europe’s remaining intact rivers and wetlands, two-thirds of the European populations of large carnivores, including bears, lynx and wolves, as well as the Beluga sturgeon, now on the edge of extinction.

Day to commemorate the Danube

Since 2004, we have been commemorating International Danube Day every year on June 29. This day celebrates 14 countries of the Danube basin – one of Europe’s largest river systems. Due to various restrictions on public gatherings in the Danube basin, the Danube Day celebrations in 2020 took place in the virtual realm of #DiscoverDanube! This year is no different. The motto “Discover the Danube” continues to fit into the situation, with several online events.

Danube adventure from your chair

Why not be “active across the Danube” at home and try an adventure game on the Danube now? This year, go on a Danube Adventure! Try the online adventure game about the Danube, prepared by the Secretariat of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube (ICPDR).

Innovative forest state evaluation methodology

Forest-state evaluation methodology and why do we need it

The area of Börzsöny Mountains in Hungary is mostly forested. If one wants to conserve this area efficiently, it is important to understand both the processes and trends within such forested ecosystems.  

In the period between 2014-2017, the Börzsöny Mountains were already evaluated under the Swiss Found project SH4/13. As a result, the forest-state describing methodology was developed and introduced in both the workshop (D.T2.1.1) and the toolkit (D.T2.1.1).

This methodology collects data from multiple variables and records different types of forests within it. Moreover, it also helps to monitor numerous forest-related variables such as natural disturbance, forestry interventions, etc.

New methodology for the Centralparks project

Although the suggested benefits are useful, they still, however, have to be simplified in order to be more effective, less time-consuming, and more goal-oriented. For this reason, Centralparks is currently developing a similar but a more updated methodology version, led by the Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate.

Our new methodology will aim to capture an extended list of changes occurring in the forests and influencing their ecosystems in general. Moreover, it will also be extended to include a more populated list of species, so that it can be easily used in most of the mountainous forests in Central Europe.

Overall, within the framework of the Centralparks project, some additional completing components will be developed. Primarily, those will be the receiving database-structure alongside the survey sheet. The former will be PostGIS – SQL based. The latter, on the other hand, will be available on Android operating systems (especially Android 4.2) and will be compatible with ForestDataCollect application. Finally, the protocol on the forest state evaluation will also be developed to capture these mechanisms and propose the efficiency of the new methodology as such.

When are we piloting the methodology?

The methodology will be tested during the vegetation period of 2021. Altogether 4.000 points will be monitored based on the points of the previous project (SH4/13). 

The field test under the previous project within the Börzsöny Mountains has been promising which is why we hope that with our proposed changes and new Centralparks methodology we will be able to get an even better outlook on a) the effect of the different forest management and treatment types and b) their effect on the naturalness and nature conservation status of the forest units. 

Updates from the 12th WG Biodiversity meeting

Carpathians and the Carpathian Convention

Carpathian ecosystems hold the very last European wilderness areas. These areas are famous for their largest remaining primeval forests and grasslands. Moreover, within such ecosystems, there are over 400 endemic plant and other animal species, that are either extinct or cannot effectively exist in other European regions.

To better manage these biodiversity hotspots, the Carpathian Convention was established 18 years ago. It is a multilateral environmental agreement between seven Carpathian countries which include Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. To this date, such partnership has helped to ensure a great framework for cooperation and multisectoral policy integration. Specifically, it has also opened up the forum for participation by stakeholders and the public. Moreover, it has also been a notably successful platform for developing and implementing transnational strategies, programmes and projects for environmental protection and sustainable development. 

Carpathian Convention & WG Biodiversity under the global post-2020 biodiversity framework

Especially supporting the latter point, the Carpathian Convention has provided a Protocol on Biodiversity and Sustainable Forest Management. This Protocol safeguards both biological and landscape diversity in the region. Under this spectrum, the Carpathian Convention is therefore also considered as a regional instrument that promotes the implemention of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework in the Carpathians. Additionally, it also endorses the Global 2050 Goals and 2030 Action Targets within the regional level.

All this noted, the Working Group on Biodiversity (WG Biodiversity), as an entity under the Carpathian Convention, was also established to support the implementation of the relevant global and EU policies and processes. Particularly, it focuses on the the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. For this reason, the Parties and the Secretariat and organised the next Working Group on Biodiversity meeting, held on 19 – 20 May 2021.

Centralparks project & global and European biodiversity goals 

As a regional project that is supported by the Carpathian Convention and its members, Centralparks ensures both the improved legal protection as well as a more efficient management of the protected natural areas in the Carpathians. Among three work packages under the Centralparks project, The 1st Thematic Work Package (WPT1) specifically addresses the above mentioned objectives of the Carpathian Convention in relation to both global and European biodiversity goals. Here are two specific examples as to how it does this.

First, the WPT1 aims to ensure integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian region. To do this, it reconciles and links the conservation of biological/landscape diversity to sustainable local socio-economic development. Specifically, it supports the local communities in their protected areas related operations. In general, this contributes to the development of local sustainable tourism practices and improves the overall communications background between the local stakeholders.

Second, the the WPT1 also serves as a great platform for transnational cooperation and networking in the protection of biodiversity. Under the WPT1, there are 3 multinational expert groups (Thematic Transnational Task Forces, TTTFs). All TTFs are highly involved in the Centralparks activities.

Draft Carpathian strategy for enhancing biodiversity and landscape conservation

To this date, the TTTF on biodiversity and landscape conservation has prepared 3 subsequent working versions of the Draft Carpathian strategy for enhancing biodiversity and landscape conservation (hereinafter ‘the Draft’) outside and inside protected areas. It indicates some specific measures and activities, which need to be applied in the protected Carpathian areas.

The implementation of the Draft will take place under 2 separate pilot actions in Hungary and Poland in 2021, each action involving the Carpathian protected areas (Duna-Ipoly National Park, Pieniny National Park) and surrounding local communities. Reports on lessons learned from its test implementation will be submitted in early 2022 to the Carpathian Convention.