Ecosystem Services are complex and interrelated ecological systems that support life and local development recalling attention on how people depend on a healthy environment for different purposes. They are the “benefits of nature directly or indirectly used by humans”.
The Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit, developed by Centralparks in five languages (EN, PL, SK, CZ and HU) aim to help managers to better understand and assess Carpathian Ecosystem Services as well as avoid or reduce conflicts in the Carpathian region and beyond.
More than 550 environmental education experts from around 50 countries, including representatives of Centralparks are coming together in Prague and online this week to participate in the 11th World Environmental Education Congress.
The Czech Republic is the first Central European country to host the congress in its nearly 20-year history. Its size makes it one of the largest educational conferences in the history of the Czech Republic. The congress programme was jointly prepared by experts from Czech and foreign universities, eco-centres and other organisations involved in environmental education.
According to the main organizer of the event, Jan Činčera from the Department of Environmental Studies at Masaryk University, the programme was created as a joint project of a wide professional community and its preparation took almost three years. The Congress is attended by government officials, as well as representatives of business and the non-profit sector. The hybrid form of the congress, which allows active participation of those participants who could not come to Prague, ensures the connection in the ongoing pandemic situation.
“Environmental problems, such as climate change, are not going to disappear from the world. We must find a way to educate children to be active citizens who are sensitive to nature and at the same time believe in the power of democracy to solve such problems.”
Jan Činčera, organiser of the World Environmental Education Congress
The programme of the congress consists of lectures by leading world experts, panel discussions and seminars aimed at sharing experiences and finding new ways for the theory and practice of environmental education. “Meetings like the World Congress on Environmental Education allow us to stop and reflect. Together we can figure out how this area of education should change to better respond to today’s complex and opaque world,” adds Chinchera.
Centralparks presenting at the 11th World Environmental Education Congress
The Centralparks team is present on the Congress in two fronts. Tomorrow at 13:00 we will present the Centralparks experience with the integration of biodiversity protection with environmental and sustainability education in and around Carpathian protected areas.
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 to the Parties of the Carpathian Convention.
On 7th July 2021, the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention has submitted the draft Carpathian strategy for enhancing biodiversity and landscape conservation outside and inside protected areas to the Parties of the Carpathian Convention.
Under the frameworks of two strategies, Centralparks also ran two pilot actions in Poland, in Pieniny National Park and Magurski National Park. Concerning the local sustainable tourism strategy meeting in Magurski National Park, several important stakeholders expressed their willingness to cooperate with the National Park Director on the implementation of the local strategy for the Magura region.
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.
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:
! 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.
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
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.
During the first day, participants will go through the draft of the WG Biodiversity Work Plan 2021 – 2023 to analyse the relevant documents for the WG Biodiversity activities. The Report on population status of large carnivores and monitoring methods in the Carpathians will be then discussed alongside International Action Plan on the Conservation of Large Carnivores and Ensuring Ecological Connectivity.
Other projects, relevant for the implementation of the Action Plan, will also be presented. Among those, we will specifically touch upon the Centralparks, as well as the ConnectGREEN and SaveGREEN projects, which focus on ecological connectivity in the Carpathians. Moreover, the WG Biodiversity will also put their heads together about the Successful Wildlife Crime Prosecution in Europe (SWiPE) project, which is another recently started EU LIFE project in the region.
During the second day, participants will largely examine the Post – 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Here, we will go through the updates on the Post-2020 GBF process, discuss the role and contribution of the Carpathian Convention, as well as elaborate on the Trilateral Memorandum of Cooperation between the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Alpine Convention and the Carpathian Convention. Furthermore, we will also open the floor for fruitful discussions on both the Carpathian Wetland Initiative and Forum Carpaticum 2021.
Most importantly from the Centralparks project side is that on day two, representatives of the project will present the activities of Centralparks and the efforts related to the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (CNPA). Here, we will have the opportunity to present the updates on the CNPA activities, including the 3rd CNPA Conference. Finally, meeting attendees will go through the Citizen Science in the Carpathians, which is another essential, this time – Visegrad project, that concerns the biodiversity issues in the Carpathians.
Every year on 22nd of April the world celebrates the Earth day. Here are some interesting facts to get you intrigued:
On the first Earth Day in 1920, more than 20 million people protested on the streets all across the United States to urge politicians to take action against the environmental degradation. To this day, this event remains the largest single day protest in human history.
On Earth Day 2016, the Paris Agreement was signed. This environmental agreement is often referred to as a milestone in the global climate change regime.
On Earth Day 2020, over 100 million people around the globe observed the 50th anniversary of this event from their home screens. This, again, was the largest (online) mass mobilisation in history.
If you are after some additional facts, do watch this fascinating video:
What is the idea behind this year’s event?
The key point behind this year’s event is innovation. Moreover, it is about putting the concept of innovation into the two specific perspectives.
First, it is about driving and supporting further technological innovations that are developed accordingly to the environmentally sustainable standards. In other words, the technology that we should strive to promote within the society has to do good not only for humans, but also for the environment. Among the most crucial examples here is GreenTech/ CleanTech. In its production chain, this technology group uses the power of renewable energy sources such as the sun, wind, moving water, organic plant material and the earth’s heat. By not using the environmentally harmful alternatives such as oil, coal, or natural gas, green technology is the best option that could get us one step closer towards achieving the sustainable environmental future.
Second, it is about the innovative or rather transformative mindset of oneself. That stated, this Earth Day therefore places a solid emphasis on the actions that every individual should consider in order to become a more sustainable being. Simply put, it is what you do with your own habits that matters, as it then serves as an example for the rest of the world to follow!
If you would like to get a better grasp into any of these topics, do use the free-of-change online event opportunities on the official Earth Day website.
Earth Day and the Carpathians
Every event that takes place under the Earth Day celebrations is aimed at improving the general status of the environment. Moreover, these events are also aimed at transforming the ways in which humansview the environment. The latter, in turn, is specifically promoted to ensure that the standings of each individual as well as any other business or government entity in general do not cause further environmental degradation.
All of the mentioned context is crucial for the activities we run within Centralparks. This is the region with the unique ecosystems which are inhabited by the likewise unique species. By increasing the environmental protection and improving the management of such protected areas we will make sure to stick to the Earth Day concepts. Moreover, since the Earth Day seeks to promote better society mobilisation practices at all the possible levels – that is also another foundation of the many projects of ours.
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!
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 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.
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