The Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit is available online!

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.

You can access the Toolkit in all five languages under ‘Our achievements’!

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How to educate the next generation to face the environmental challenges ahead?

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.

Moreover, the Cartoon illustrated youth poster developed by the project is accepted in the international poster session of the Congress.

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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):

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 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.
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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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The Carpathian Convention celebrated its 18th anniversary

18 years ago, seven countries decided to join forces under an umbrella of an international treaty to work closely together on a sustainable future for the Carpathian region – one of Europe´s last greatest wilderness areas with an exceptional richness of biodiversity. 

Signed on 22 May 2003, the Carpathian Convention´s vision is to address environmental challenges, improve the quality of life and strengthen the local economies and communities for the well-being of current and future generations. The Carpathian Convention aims at conserving fragile and precious ecosystems and promoting sustainable development in the Carpathian region by providing a legal framework to pursue comprehensive policy and cooperation at various levels, including international, governmental, regional and local.

A convention for Carpathian biodiversity

The Carpathians are home to stunning ecosystems with unique natural and cultural heritage, including many traditions, cultural practices and historical monuments that have survived to this day, constituting great assets for sustainable tourism development and determining the unique tourist attractiveness of the whole region. The region hosts one of the most precious old-growth forests in Europe and provides habitat to the largest numbers of big carnivores including bears, lynx and wolves in Europe. 

It is not a coincidence that the Carpathian Convention was adopted on 22 May, International Biodiversity Day. The Convention addresses various thematic sectors relevant for sustainable development of the region, however, biodiversity should be considered the key underpinning element upon which all other sectors depend. Therefore, the Convention can be considered as a great model for mainstreaming biodiversity into other sectors and shall be considered as a useful regional instrument for supporting the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the upcoming Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Since 2003, mountains of work have been done to progress on ensuring environmental sustainability of the Carpathian region, including maintaining ecological connectivity, conserving large carnivores, protecting wetlands, developing an inventory of old growth forests, and enhancing the management efficiency of protected areas by strengthening the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas. Yet, the work ahead of us for living in harmony with nature in the Carpathian region is still long and challenging.

Cooperation is central

We want to take this opportunity to thank the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention, all the Parties to the Carpathian Convention (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Ukraine) and organisations, Environmental ministries and other stakeholders for their great commitment and contribution towards a more sustainable future in the Carpathians.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Henry Ford

We are looking forward to further working within Centralparks together with other Carpathian experts to ensure the protection of Carpathian natural and cultural heritage, while supporting local socio-economic development.

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Test your Carpathian knowledge and win the prize

Do you know the size of one of the most beautiful recreational and natural areas of Europe? If your answer is either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – because we accept both – do join us in the first ever Carpathian Quiz!

This Quiz is a part of the three-year Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE project Centralparks, which brings together eight partners from 7 European countries.

With this Interreg Centralparks Carpathian Quiz you can show us your knowledge about this magnificent Carpathian region or deepen it, since each answer will be explained. Enjoy the educative nature character of this Quiz, take part, and submit your results with the button at the end of the quiz. 

To attend the quiz, you must:
1) Be over 18 years old and be based in Europe;
2) Read and answer all 17 questions carefully;
3) Agree to the terms and conditions, found here.

Entry deadline: The quiz will run from 1st June 2021 to 19th July 2021.

How and when are the winners determined? Given the non-competitive nature of this quiz, we will use a random generator to select the winners. The persons selected will then be reached via their email address within the 14 days after the closing date.

What if I get my answers wrong? This quiz is of educative rather than competitive character. For this reason, do not worry in case you get any of your answers wrong – there will still be a place to learn as the correct information on the topic will appear immediately after you choose your preferred option. Moreover, regardless of the answers, every participant will be included in the selection of winners.

What is the prize and how will I receive it? The prize is not monetary and does not include cash, nor can it be exchanged for a different prize. The prize includes the selected gifts from numerous Centralparks partners. The gifts will be shipped to the address that you will provide to us later on in case you are chosen as winner on the random winner generator platform.

All your personal data which is necessary to award you like your name, email address, and home address will be handled according to the GDPR regulations. Please be kindly aware, however, that we might publish your name and poem and announce you as a raffle winner.

Have fun and should you want to learn more, feel free to subscribe to our Carpathian Centralparks newsletter!

Looking forward to your answers and poems,

The Centralparks partners

[qsm quiz=10]

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Grassland state evaluation methodology

Habitats under evaluation and aim of the methodology

In the administrative area of the Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate in Hungary, there are many diverse grassland types. The key concern of these areas is that they are extensively turning into the shrubs, despite the fact that in the past some of the locations were already treated against such plants. 

To understand the natural dynamic processes-based succession as well to assess the effects of the existing treatments/management that leads to the further growth of shrubs, Centralparks is implementing an innovative monitoring methodology. This methodology is based on the analysis of the previous treatment/management activities, such as: nature conservation management, grazing, mowing/stalking, shrub cutting/removal, control of invasive alien species (by mechanical or chemical methods). Furthermore, it is also

The methodology will aim to answer the following questions:

  1. To what extent the existing management practices ensure viability, regeneration, and possible extension of the habitats/communities and species of nature conservation interest (protected, Natura 2000, etc.) in this area?
  2. Does the state of the surveyed habitats/population remain sustainable (if the treatment was sufficient and there is sustaining management) or is it not improving to the desired level? If the improvement is not noticeable, what shall we change within the current management practices (its methodology, mosaic, intensity, etc.)

The methodology

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Further steps

The introduced method will be tested on the selected priority grassland habitat types of the Börzsöny Mountains. At the moment, the involved partner Danube-Ipoly National Park is selecting the priority grasslands habitat types. The goal is to represent the most diverse, and natural grassland types as well as to be able to compare the new methodologies and evaluate them, how useful they were in the term of nature conservation management planning.