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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):

Mid-term evaluation and last partner meeting of the year

Last week, the Centralparks consortium held its last partnership meeting of the year 2020. The online event was organised as a mid-term evaluation of the project progress, and was attended by representatives of the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Joint Secretariat, representatives of the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention as well as various Associated Partners of the project.

The aim of the meeting was to look back on the achievements and overall performance of the past 1,5 years of Centralparks, as well as to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of the project. This was a chance for the partnership to receive feedback from the Joint Secretariat about how to improve the planning, appraisal and implementation of project activities.

The mid-term review meeting was very valuable to draw initial lessons about project implementation and management, and to harmonise the project objectives. Every work package leader has presented their progress, reflected on challenges, and discussed planned activities together with the rest of the participants. This way, the meeting helped the partners in identifying and understanding in-depth the successes to date and problems that may arise in the next year, with special attention to the still very present Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, the event created the opportunity to provide the Centralparks Associated Partners with an external, objective view on the project status, its relevance, the effectiveness of its management, technical implementation and communication, and indication of whether the project is likely to achieve its objectives.

The meeting was also a good platform for the attendees outside the project consortium to provide to the Centralparks partners some recommendations for capturing additional opportunities, as well as for measures to overall improve the project performance for the remainder of the project duration.

The participants also touched on the subject of how to replicate the lessons learnt from project implementation to the the broader policy environment. Moreover, the deviations that have occurred in Centralparks’ work plan due to the Covid-19 outbreak have been discussed and various mitigation measures have been taken into consideration. Overall, the meeting was very fruitful, and the Centralparks team achieved great success in keeping the collaboration effective and strong over distance.

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.

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.