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Centralparks at the DaRe to Connect webinar

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.

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Successful webinar on transnational aims to protect Carpathian biodiversity

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:

Webinar about the Green Carpathians on 25 September

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)!

You can download the invitation and agenda here:

Online Centralparks and CEETO synergy meeting

On the 28th of July 2020, the Centralparks and CEETO project team representatives held an online synergy meeting. The meeting aimed to discuss outcomes of the CEETO project, to share experiences about tourism in and around protected areas and to search for possible meeting points for future cooperation.

CEETO stands for Central Europe Eco-Tourism: tools for nature protection. The project lasted from 01.06.2017 to 31.05.2020 and aimed at implementing an innovative governance system for tourism, based on a participatory planning approach. This helped to improve the managing capacities of protected areas managers. Moreover, CEETO aimed at identifying and testing innovative management and monitoring tools specifically focused on sustainable tourism activities. One of the most important outcomes of the project is eight action plans created for tourism development within the pilot protected areas. The outcomes of the pilot results were summarised into joint Guidelines for developing sustainable tourism in protected areas as well as a Manual for sustainable tourism governance for protected area managers. Moreover, the CEETO project aimed to capitalise common knowledge and set up the CEETO Network platform, which serves as a knowledge hub and exchange platform. 

Centralparks aims to integrate biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian region. The joint strategy for local sustainable tourism development based on the natural and cultural heritage of the Carpathians will be targeted at Carpathian protected area administrations, local communities as well as municipality authorities. The objective of this strategy is to re-conciliate and integrate nature protection with local socio-economic development and to raise support of local communities for the conservation of biological and landscape diversity in the Carpathians. Therefore, a joint meeting between representatives of Centralparks and CEETO provided a very valuable opportunity to identify synergies.

Common issues of both projects

Both the CEETO and Centralparks project target the same issues of biodiversity protection in touristic areas. Both projects are dealing with places exploited by unsustainable tourism, many disagreeing stakeholders and a lack of cross-regional and international cooperation, among others. The Centralparks team was delighted to have an opportunity to ask arising questions and learn from the experience of the CEETO project.

Fruitful discussion

During the meeting, many questions were discussed, mostly focusing on sustainable tourism development in and around protected areas, building international and local cooperation, stakeholder involvement and sharing project outcomes with the public. The Centralparks representatives are very thankful for the CEETO representatives’ time and efforts to discuss several relevant topics. The synergy meeting gave us many new ideas and questions for consideration and we will gladly keep in contact for future cooperation.  

For further information on the CEETO project, you can revisit the presentations of the Final conference here.

Guided nature excursions in the Czech Carpathians

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.

Treasures of the Carpathians

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.

Biodiversity

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. 

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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.

Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh primeval beech forest, Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, Ukraine

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.

Since 2006, the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas, operating under the umbrella of the Carpathian Convention, has established a platform of cooperation between the protected areas, to facilitate discussions and cooperation between protected area administrations.

Protecting the Carpathians

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.

Meeting online with the CONNECT2CE project

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.

The Mi.Co.Tra train service Trieste-Villach, extended within the framework of CONNECT2CE

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.

The integrated multimodal ticket Trieste-Ljubljana, part of the CONNECT2CE project

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.

Centralparks meets online

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world in a rapid pace and bring serious economic, geopolitical and health impacts. Nevertheless, the Centralparks project team stays connected during the times of physical distancing, and focuses on maximising communication in the virtual realm.

On 17th March, an the first online partner meeting took place within the frame of Centralparks. Partners discussed the project progress together with planned activities for the year of 2020 and harmonized the time planning within the team.

The meeting was opened with the presentation of Isidoro De Bortoli, project manager and Stefania Lochmann, financial manager of Centralparks. They summarized shortly the project progress and informed the partnership about Programme measures and instructions related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Considering the emergency situation, the partnership reached the conclusion that the 3rd physical partner meeting, scheduled for May in Slovakia will be postponed. During this sensitive period, the project consortium continues its work and will exchange information and experiences using digital means.

Ms Eleonora Musco informed the partnership about the outcome of the Meeting of the Carpathian Convetion Working Group on Biodiversity and Carpathian Network of Protected Areas Steering Committee meeting, organised within the framework of the ConnectGREEN project. The meeting focused on providing a platform for necessary discussions related to the International Action Plan for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of the Carpathian Large Carnivores Population, as well as the Strategy of the Identification, Conservation, Restoration and Management of Ecological Corridors in the Carpathian Ecoregion. As partner projects, ConnectGREEN and Centralparks will organise synergy activities in the upcoming years. More information on the meeting can be found here.

Following critical discussions focusing on the next steps in the project, each Thematic Work Package (WP T) leader presented the state of the art of the project activities. Zbigniew Niewiadomski from the WP T1 leader Ekopsychiogy Society shared with the partners the current working status of the Thematic Transnational Task Forces. Carpathian experts are actively cooperating in all three task forces to develop transnational Carpathian strategies focusing on biodiversity and landscape conservation, sustainable tourism and communication between protected areas and local communities. Partners agreed that in the future, a combination of physical meetings and online meetings could be a good solution to increase work efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of the project.

Next up, Borbála Szabó-Major from the Duna-Ipoly National Park Directorate updated the partnership about the status of WP T2 activities. The area for the pilot LIDAR scanning has been designated. She also shared the progress made by experts in the development of forest state and grassland state evaluation protocols to monitor Carpathian habitat types.

The status report of WP T3 activities was presented Ján Kadlečik from State Nature Conservancy on the Slovak Republic and Radoslav Považan from Pronatur. Carpathian experts are working extensively on the development of the Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit and embrace online meetings for input collection.

The last presentation focused on communication, presented by Hanna Öllös from European Wilderness Society. Public outreach and stakeholder involvement is a key topic for Centralparks. In these difficult times, digital communication as a productive medium has its chance to be the primary channel to engage the public. The partnership of Centralparks works in harmony and is dedicated to continue its work for the Carpathians, the green lungs of Europe.

Centralparks at the Carpathian Convention Working Group on Biodiversity and the Steering Committee of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas

6 March 2020 – Important announcement

Adjournment of the joint meeting of the Carpathian Convention Working Group on Biodiversity, Working Group on Sustainable Transport and the Steering Committee of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas

Due to temporary restrictions on international travels for public health reasons related to COVID-19, the physical meeting of the Joint meeting of the Carpathian Convention Working Group on Biodiversity, Working Group on Sustainable Transport and the Steering Committee of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas that was scheduled on 10 – 11 March 2020 has been adjourned sine die. Currently the organization of an online meeting, within which the most important topics will be discussed, is under way.

Please stay tuned for further news during the coming weeks!

Next week, the Centralparks project will be introduced to the Carpathian Convention‘s biodiversity experts and stakeholders at the Carpathian Convention Working Group (WG) on Biodiversity and the Steering Committee (SC) of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (CNPA), that will take place between 10– 11th March 2020 in Budapest, Hungary. The WG Biodiversity & the CNPA SC meeting will be organized in parallel with the WG Sustainable Transport meeting of the Convention. The meeting will be financially supported by the EU DTP ConnectGREEN project.

The meeting will offer the possibility to re-gather official members of the Steering Committee of CNPA after a long break.  CNPA was created in December 2006 as a regional thematic network for the cooperation of mountain protected areas in the Carpathians and a means of implementing the Carpathian Convention. The CNPA’s general objective is to contribute to the protection and sustainable development of the Carpathian protected areas and related natural assets.

The main goals of the CNPA are:

  • Promotion of cooperation on protection, restoration of nature and sustainable use of natural and cultural resources of the Carpathians;
  • Implementation of decisions and recommendations undertaken by the bodies established under the Carpathian Convention as well as of other applicable relevant international legal instruments;
  • Promotion of sustainable livelihoods and sustainable development of the Carpathians;
  • Implementation of the relevant provisions of the Protocol on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological and Landscape Diversity (Biodiversity Protocol) and of the Sustainable Tourism Protocol and its Strategy.

The CNPA SC is composed by National Focal Points, nominated by the Parties of the Carpathian Convention. The meetings of the CNPA SC, open to attend for interested observers, are focusing on coordinating activities of the CNPA, developing strategies and working plans for the CNPA, and organising the CNPA Conferences. 

The Carpathian Convention Implementation Committee welcomes Centralparks

The Centralparks project was introduced to the Carpathian Convention Parties and stakeholders at the 10th meeting of the Carpathian Convention Implementation Committee (CCIC), that took place on 12-13 December in Budapest, hosted by the Hungarian Presidency of the Convention.

The 10th meeting of the Carpathian Convention Implementation Committee offered the possibility for Member States to look back at the latest activities implemented in the region and to look forward to the next steps towards the 6th Conference of the Parties, to be held in Poland in Autumn 2020, and beyond.

In the frame of the meeting, Centralparks was presented by Mr. Mircea Verghelet. The project is considered a Carpathian Convention flagship project, which support the implementation of the Carpathian Convention under different strategic aspects and foster the cooperation within the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (CNPA). Parties welcomed the future organization of the CNPA Steering Group meeting, back to back the Centralparks partners meeting, at the end of 2020 in Czech Republic.  ​Furthermore, CCIC encouraged the Carpathian Convention Working Group on Biodiversity and the Secretariat to support the organization of a Conference for the Carpathian Protected Areas within the Centralparks and EU DTP ConnectGreen projects at the beginning of 2021.​

You can find more information about the CCIC meeting here.

The Carpathian Convention

The Carpathian Convention is a consortium of seven Carpathian countries (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Serbia) to foster the sustainable development and protection of the Carpathian region. The Convention is one of only two sub-regional treaties for the protection and sustainable development of a mountain region worldwide. The Convention provides a framework for cooperation and multi-sectoral policy coordination, a platform for joint strategies for sustainable development, and a forum for dialogue between all stakeholders involved – from the local community and various NGO’s up to the regional and national governments, institutions of the European Union and the United Nations. Further information: http://www.carpathianconvention.org/