29-30th October, Sanok, Poland. The two-day Project Partner and Steering Committee meeting of the Centralparks project united partners to evaluate the very first months of the project and jointly plan the next steps.
The partner meeting was organised by Ekopsychology Society, leader of the 1st Thematic Work Package, in the beautiful Polish town Sanok, which lies directly below the Carpathian Mountains. The meeting was opened with a welcome speech by Zbigniew Niewiadomski from Ekopsychology Society, introducing the natural and cultural heritage of the region. After that, Isidoro de Bortoli, Project Manager from the Lead Partner Eurac Research guided the participants through the agenda of the meeting and presented the current state and achievements of Work Package Management. Special focus was put on reviewing the first six months of the project implementation.
What are the keys of effective communication and how can all partners be ambassadors of the project? The answer was explained in the presentation on Work Package Communication by Hanna Öllös from the European Wilderness Society, leader of the respective Work Package.
The 1st Thematic Work Package was presented by Zbigniew Niewiadomski, who focused on giving an update about the achievements of the Thematic Transnational Task Forces and next steps of the work plan. Borbála Major from the leader of the 2nd Thematic Work Package, Duna-Ipoly National Park) shared the current status of the work and explained to the partners the following tasks in developing innovative conservation planning methods. The 3rd Thematic Work Package, focusing on the development of the Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit was presented jointly by Jan Kadlecik (from the State Nature Conservancy SK) and Zuzana Okániková from Pronatur NGO, presenting the first results of the Gap analyis, prepared to identify the current status in ecosystem services implementation and address gaps in the implementation of ecosystem services policies in the target countries.
During the next session, Eleonora Musco from Eurac Research detailed the role and planned activities of the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention in project implementation, highlighting various events where Centralparks will be present, and provided an update on the ConnectGREEN project, focusing on strenghtening green infrastructure in the Carpathians.
Inbetween presentations, partners had the chance to stretch their legs and take their fruitful discussions outside: a guided tour through the Museum of Folk architecture in Sanok showcased the rich cultural heritage the Carpathian region holds in itself, which gave new inspirations for each participant.
The second day was reserved for the Steering Committee meeting, during which important tasks and responsibilities were layed down. Recently, the project Advisory Support Group was set up, bringing together Mr. Harald Egerer, Head of the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention, Mr. Boris Erg, IUCN Director of the Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia and Andreas Beckmann, Regional Director at WWF Central and Eastern Europe. The consortium will follow the project progress closely and will provide expertquality check of Centralparks results.
Finally, the partnership agreed on the next meetings and big events, such as the organisation of the Carpathian Network of the Protected Areas roundtable, one key result in the project. Filled with inspiring talks, important to-dos and Carpathian team spirit, partners returned home, to continue working for the Carpathians, one of the wildest sides of Europe.