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Posted on: 25th April 2009
EUROPARC Consulting's involvement in the Carpathian Eco-region continues vigorously. This time, the village of Szarvasko, on the edge of the Bükk National Park in Hungary, was the venue for the second of the Training Champions seminars. The Training Champions Programme, supported through the WWF "Protected Areas for a Living Planet Programme", is designed to develop the skills of a core group of trainees from protected areas in the Carpathian Ecoregion, particularly in training and communication, management planning, sustainable tourism and community involvement. This is being achieved through a series of training events led by two programme leaders from EUROPARC Consulting, Rosie Simpson and Keith Buchanan, supported by guest trainers.
The Öko-Park pension proved a homely and comfortable venue for the ambitious programme. It aimed to introduce the concept and principles of sustainable tourism in protected areas and develop experience of how this can be applied in practice; review and develop thinking on protected area management planning; evaluate approaches to training and communications for protected area management. Included were sessions on training nature guides, involving local businesses and communities in developing tourism, software for management planning and adaptive management, in addition to the core training elements.
Assisting the programme leaders at this event was Jacques Decuignières. Jacques has a background in rural development for many years as Head of Tourism in the Luberon Parc Naturel Régional, France, before working independently on sustainable tourism and sustainable development.
Participants contributed through plenary and group discussions, oral reports, giving presentations and through providing written records of sessions and feedback. The group also developed ideas and material to use after the course. For example, they identified current visitor management problems and discussed their experience and options for addressing these. Other material produced included: impacts, benefits and challenges of tourism in protected areas; selecting the right communication methods, and Top Tips for Powerpoint presentations. The event CD circulated to participants includes presentations and training materials produced by the course leaders, the guest presenter and participants.
Fourteen participants from 7 countries in the Carpathian Region took part in the event which ran from the 21st to the 25th April. Escape from the training room was allowed, however, and an excellent field visit to the Szilvasvarad valley and the Bükk Plateau took place on the middle day. On this visit many issues in relation to visitor management and sustainable tourism were explored. Also included was a presentation and discussion with a stakeholder from the Carpathian Hiking Club.
Feedback from participants was very good and positive (well done to Andras Schmotzer and Janos Baczur for making the local arrangements) and all involved are looking forward to the next event in the series, to be held in Romania in September. EUROPARC Consulting is continuing is close involvement in Eastern Europe and would love to hear of other initiatives going on there.
Keith Buchanan, Rosie Simpson and Wilf Fenten, EUROPARC Consulting GmbH