Europarc Federation

The EUROPARC Federation as the representative body of Europe’s Protected Areas, is the collective voice for all nature and landscape areas and seeks to build a stronger, unifying, European network organisation that is better placed to support our members and to respond to current and future challenges facing Europe’s nature. The EUROPARC Federation aims to enhance and sustain Europe’s natural heritage, through fostering international cooperation, capacity building and networking. This is achieved through the exchange of ideas, skills and experience, in the policy and practice, and in all aspect of protected area management.

EUROPARC’s presence is strengthened through the work of national and multi-country Sections in Germany, Spain, Italy, Central and Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland), France, the Atlantic Isles (UK and Ireland), Low Countries (the Netherlands and Belgium) and the Nordic-Baltic area (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). These sections further interpret European policy and development for their national and regional audiences. They also encourage and promote regional cooperation between protected area managers through region specific workshops, training and publications.

EUROPARC has a significant role in providing a European platform for the development of policy, the implementation of policy and the exchange of skills and experience across protected areas in 37 countries. Furthermore EUROPARC influences public policy and programmes through lobbying work, to ensure the objectives of protected areas and landscapes are recognised and integrated into European and national policy. EUROPARC informs and influences decision-makers as well as European policy development and implementation through the technical expertise within the membership. Priorities set at European level can also be implemented at the most effective level in partnership with members.

We live in an ever-changing world, with increasing expectations, demands and challenges to be faced by Protected Areas. If Protected Areas are to remain relevant to modern society, they need to be able to adapt and respond to these changes. Ensuring the dedication, passion and commitment often shown by people working in Protected Areas is translated into qualified competent and effective staff, is central to a successful Protected Area. Bringing together Protected Area professionals and other stakeholders to learn together, share experience and knowledge in differing aspects of Protected Area management and innovate new ideas is at the heart of the EUROPARC Federation’s work. Training however does not need to be seen as a highly expensive, time consuming activity, but an investment in the long term effectiveness of the administration, which could very well be cost saving! EUROPARC has been innovative in the use of new media and online tools to expand the accessibility of training to the wider protected area community across Europe.

EUROPARC has long recognised the need to take care of both the land and the people who live and work there, and often derive their livelihoods from those who come to appreciate these special places. We understand that not only are parks themselves facing challenges and pressure from visitation and misuse on the land they manage, but have the opportunity and potential to act as catalysts for sustainability and life style changes at a local and regional and indeed national level.

In 1993 EUROPARC published the ground breaking report “Loving them to death”, which called for sustainable tourism in Europe’s Protected Areas. Further in 1995, EUROPARC took the initiative to set up the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Area, the feasibility of the programme was tested and developed through a Life project. Now more than 20 years later the “charter network ” has grown into the biggest and most successful sustainable tourism network and encompasses in 2017 , 164 parks , over 4000 stakeholder partners and some 500 businesses. The “Charter” has been shown to be a useful and important tool that delivers social, environmental and economic benefits and indeed can be described as a model of governance that delivers Protected Areas as sustainable tourism destinations. The core element of the “Charter” is working in partnership with all relevant stakeholders to develop a common sustainable tourism strategy and an action plan on the basis of a thorough situation analysis. The aim of all Charter projects and activities is the protection of the natural and cultural heritage and the continuous improvement of tourism in the Protected Area in terms of the environment, local population and businesses as well as visitors. The demand for inclusion and certification in the charter network continues to grow and so therefore the need for training, capacity building and access to knowledge and good practise as we seek to further develop and extend the sustainable tourism network
across Europe.