On these pages you will find a plethora of articles about our current or past projects. You will also find some examples of our work on the page Track Record and a list of our services under Fields of Expertise. If you would like any more information about any of the projects mentioned just get in touch.
Posted on: 1st November 2010
EUROPARC Consulting is committed to helping protected areas make tourism in their beautiful landscapes more sustainable. The best tool to achieve this is the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism.
Becoming a Charter area involves, however, a great deal of work. Most protected areas can do it, but with a bit of help. The brand-new Charter Toolkit from EUROPARC Consulting provides just that.
It works through giving two kinds of assistance: first of all, four full days of mentoring by an experienced EUROPARC-trained expert and, secondly, clear and easy-to-use guidance from a manual.
The mentoring service gives those seeking to become Charter members the chance to ask questions of and get direct advice from a mentor. The manual is structured to follow the application process in the new Charter documents which were launched recently (see news article of 25th August 2010).
The whole Charter Toolkit including the four-day mentoring service is available exclusively from EUROPARC Consulting at email@example.com and costs €2950 (plus VAT, if applicable). For a little extra, additional mentoring days can be purchased.
For more information and to contact us for an informal discussion about this new service, please contact Wilf Fenten at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on: 8th October 2010
Once again, a most successful study tour
EUROPARC Consulting has gained an unrivalled reputation for the skilful preparation and implementation of international study tours. In September this year, a group of national park experts from the Carpathian mountains in Ukraine undertook the long journey to the Harz National Park in the heart of Germany. Although the main learning objective of the tour was community outreach und consultation, the various site visits, meetings and field trips opened a vast number of topics including sustainable tourism, the economic value of World Heritage Site status, visitor management, communication with local people and a wider audience ... and much more.
Thanks to the great efforts of the local Harz team, the media took a lively interest in the visitors from Ukraine (see photo). Immediate results of the study tour are a lively report in English (to be posted soon) and a newsletter in Ukrainian which you can find under http://www.europarc-consulting.org/study-tour-special-edition.pdf. If your mother-tongue is not Ukrainian, here is an excellent chance to improve your language skills. And once you have finished with the Ukrainian you can return to the newspaper article and fine-tune your German.
Posted on: 27th September 2010
EUROPARC Consulting chose the beautiful Sumava and Bayerischer Wald National Parks (in Czech Republic and Bavaria respectively) as venues for the fifth and final Training Champions training event in September 2010.
Over a three-year period, participants from all seven Carpathian countries came together for a series of training seminars which were part of the Carpathian Ecoregion project. This programme aimed to contribute to halting the loss of biodiversity in the region. Training new trainers was seen as a vital part of this effort. EUROPARC Consulting, with its reputation for thorough and successful training courses, was chosen for this task.
The latest event in September 2010 had a greater emphasis on field trips, and on contrasting management practices in western Europe with those in the Carpathians. The two national parks visited represent the largest contiguous forest in western Europe, and were a spectacular setting for the last training event in the series.
In the Sumava National Park, the group looked at both land management and recreational issues, including the plight of freshwater mussels in the Vltava River and the vexed question of responding to bark beetle infestations. The group sampled sustainable tourism, in the form of cycling!
The Bayerischer Wald National Park provided opportunities to consider the place of interpretation and visitor centres as well as to contrast differing approaches to bark beetle management – such as the relative merits of clear-felling/replanting and non-intervention/natural regeneration.
At the end of the session Carol Ritchie, Director of the EUROPARC Federation, presented the successful participants with their certificates. This proves that they have completed the full course, designed by EUROPARC Consulting, to help equip them with knowledge for managing protected areas effectively (management planning, sustainable tourism, communications skills, dealing with communities and education for sustainable development), but also with the training skills necessary to pass on this knowledge to others. A demanding task successfully accomplished!
Each participant has set out how they plan, over the next two years, to use the knowledge they have acquired. In particular, they are indicating how, using their improved training skills, they will pass on this knowledge to colleagues and stakeholders in the areas where they work.
An important additional benefit has been the formation of an informal network of participants representing some of the most important areas in the Carpathians – long may it continue.
Posted on: 25th August 2010
Not that the Charter itself needed a facelift! However, some of the documentation did. The European Charter for Sustainable Tourism has been going strong now for over a decade. It was therefore high time that somebody with a great deal of experience in Charter matters had a good look at the manuals and documents for the Charter. It also needed a fair bit of money to finance the process.
Along came the German tour operator TUI who, in its Environment and Sustainability Report 2009/2010, stated unambiguously, "We firmly believe that sustainability and responsibility are key factors in a company’s economic success, in particular in difficult times." And they were as good as their words. Without a moment's hesitation, they agreed to fund the revision and redesign of all the Charter documentation, a job which was carried out, quickly and efficiently, by EUROPARC Consulting and its design team.
EUROPARC Consulting has been involved with the Charter right from the outset. The company is without doubt the most experienced operator in relation to the Charter.
The result is a brilliant double-set of manuals and documents which are now much more accessible and easier to read. They will ensure that new Charter candidates can follow the process from the first contact to the final award of the Charter with clear guidance.
EUROPARC Consulting is grateful for the privilege of having been involved with this important task. And thanks to TUI, of course, for its generous support.
If you would like more information on the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas, just go to the European Charter page on our website here or use the following link: www.european-charter.org
Posted on: 30th July 2010
EUROPARC Consulting has always been known for its wide-ranging expertise, flexible tailor-made service and reliable, cost-effective service. Our new campaign “Count on us” emphasizes these points: If you are looking for reliable, effective, experienced help from protected-area experts – EUROPARC Consulting is ready to provide it. And, even better, if you are a member of the EUROPARC Federation you can take advantage of the particularly favourable rates which EUROPARC Consulting offers for all members of the EUROPARC Federation.
EUROPARC Consulting is the consultancy arm of the EUROPARC Federation, and exists to share the vast range within the EUROPARC network. Experts with first-hand experience in working for protected areas are matched to individual assignments. As we only work in the field of protected areas, all the experiences and expertise gained by our experts stay within the network and benefit any subsequent project. In addition, any surplus gained by EUROPARC Consulting is fed directly back into the Federation, thus benefitting again the whole EUROPEAN network.
In virtually all parts of Europe, many people working in or for protected areas are experiencing funding cuts and staff reductions. Our constant policy of providing high-quality low-cost expert consultancy services has been a real bonus in these difficulties times. This has always been useful, but is now essential. Whether it is long-term or short-term management assistance, one-off projects, organising study visits, staff exchange, seminars and conferences, our low-cost approach is now even more valued than ever. As before, count on us.
Posted on: 18th June 2010
EUROPARC Consulting is proud to be so closely associated with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas. The Charter and its process have been a resounding success for a decade now. To be a “chartered” protected area is to be part of a journey of development, a continuous quest for successful, sustainable sharing of these magical landscapes.
Almost 80 protected areas in Europe have been awarded the Charter. There is now also part II which has had a brilliant start in 2007. It helps create a close partnership between a protected area and local tourism businesses ... and they proudly display the signs of the partnership (see second photo).
In order to promote the Charter and its aim of sustainable tourism, EUROPARC Consulting carries out every year the evaluation and verification of all the applications for European Charter status. We start in January with an assessment of the application dossier and appoint a trained sustainable-tourism expert who travels to the area in order to verify the protected area’s claims. The resulting thorough report is then submitted to the Charter’s Evaluation Committee in June each year. You can see the Committee in session on one of the photographs here.
After careful consideration, the Committee then awards the Charter (or not) and the successful protected area will receive a certificate at the annual EUROPARC Conference.
This year, EUROPARC Consulting processed 14 applications for evaluation and re-evaluation and presented the reports to the meeting of the Evaluation Committee in La Garrotxa Nature Park in Catalonia. As always, it was a demanding process, but rewarding nevertheless. EUROPARC Consulting is looking forward to seeing the certificates, signed by the President of the EUROPARC Federation, being handed over in Italy later this year. Our congratulations to all protected areas who had the Charter awarded or re-awarded to them.
The third photo shows Josep Maria Prats, a member of the Evaluation Committee, introducing Wilf Fenten of EUROPARC Consulting to some of the most interesting sites in volcanic La Garrotxa.
Posted on: 26th May 2010
For the last three years, EUROPARC Consulting has been deeply involved in training a group of highly-motivated national park officers from seven Carpathian countries. By the end of 2010 they should be ready to take on a leading role in their areas as Training Champions. This has been one of the most successful training events EUROPARC Consulting has ever undertaken and we are hoping that a powerful multiplier effect will spread the results right across Eastern Europe.
The whole course has been designed by EUROPARC Consulting to equip protected-area managers in the Carpathians with the tools to manage in the best possible way this special region - a mixture of wild nature, stunning landscapes and strong local culture and traditions. It is also one element in a wider effort to deliver the commitment to a significant reduction of the loss of biodiversity by 2010.
Participants and our trainers met in the Polish spa and ski town of Sczcawnica, in the Dunajec valley, close to the Pieniny National Park and just across the river from Slovakia. The training course focused on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and on continuing to develop skills related to management planning, sustainable tourism, and training and communication. For this event Betsy King from WWF Scotland, an expert in ESD, joined the lead trainers Rosie Simpson and Keith Buchanan.
The focus was on understanding the concept, principles and practice of ESD using examples from the Carpathian region and the UK. Our Polish Training Champion candidate organised a fascinating day-visit in the National Park including a visit to some of the “gateway” visitor centres, seeing how traditional cheeses are smoked and meeting the chief rafter. Also discussed was cross-border collaboration with staff from the neighbouring Pieninsky Narodni Park. The group experienced the park as most visitors do: on a traditional raft trip through the spectacular Dunajec Gorge.
By now all the trainees are able to lead their own training programmes and spread their skills right across their own areas and beyond. When, at the end of this year, the President of the EUROPARC Federation will present certificates to the first class of Training Champions we shall all be able to look back on a significant achievement in capacity building and establishing a network of well-trained protected-area practitioners.
Our analysis and feedback have shown that participants are very positive about the three-year course and feel it is fully achieving its objectives. One aim of the training programme is to strengthen the network of protected-area managers across the region and this is beginning to work. Several participants are collaborating between events as well as getting the direct benefits from the training.
The final event will take place in the Sumava and Bavarian Forest National Parks in September 2010.
Posted on: 20th April 2010
Nature looked its spring-like best when the Clark family and close friends accompanied Aitken on his last journey. It all seemed so unfair, so final, so cruel. Yet the sun shone through the fresh beech leaves and wrapped the beautiful ancient village church of Stapleford in dappled light. Daffodils and frothy blackthorn blossoms everywhere.
Through the small door of the church comes jolly music. Abba? Yes, one of the many Abba songs which are so often part of EUROPARC events. Another tiny link of the many which will tie this great man forever to the EUROPARC family. So began the moving and simple service of thanksgiving for the life of Professor Matthew Aitken Clark. Hymns followed, then tributes, prayers, and then the mournful walk following the coffin to the cemetery where Aitken was buried.
As we stood there in the spring sunshine it seemed inconceivable that it was only days ago when the news of Aitken’s death went like a shockwave through protected areas all over Europe. He was, after all, one of the fathers of the EUROPARC Federation.
As its President from 1990 to 1996 Aitken presided over the growth of the Federation and was a key figure in shaping its character and influence. In the past nine years, since his retirement as Chief Executive of the Broads Authority, he was Chairman of EUROPARC Consulting and played a central role in generating funds and greater visibility for the Federation. In 2005, when he was awarded the Alfred Toepfer Medal in recognition of his great service to the Federation. I was there in Appeldoorn when he received the Medal. He took hold of it, touched it with a slight hesitation, and then struggled for how to reply to the praises which had been showered upon him a few moments earlier. The great man, always ready with a witty riposte, was – just for a few seconds – lost for words.
Aitken was a visionary and without his wide-ranging skills and interests EUROPARC would not enjoy the recognition it has today all over Europe, from the Urals to Iceland, from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean.
However it’s not just his vision, diplomacy and intelligent leadership that we will remember him for. He was exceptionally generous and kind, had a super sense of humour and was great company. To put it simply, he was a wonderful friend and colleague to so many people across Europe. Things won’t be the same without him.
We are still shocked and deeply saddened by his departure. Our thoughts will remain with his wife Frances and the whole family. All over Europe there are countless people whom Aitken touched during his wonderfully full life.
One of the many people who contacted us from all over Europe was Gregori Baboianu, the director of the Danube Delta Nature Reserve, who said, “I will keep, deep in my hearth, his image, his strong personality, but very kind and gentle as well”. We all will … adieu Aitken.
Posted on: 15th April 2010
If English is not your mother-tongue (and that means most of us) you already know that some expressions in English are very odd. This one is relatively easy to explain. If something that you buy gives you “more bang for your buck”, you get more value for your money by buying this product, than from buying any other. “Buck” in US English is an informal way of saying “dollar”, of course.
It’s a bit like asking EUROPARC Consulting to work for you. If you are a member of EUROPARC Federation you pay much less for the work we do. But you get still the same high standard of service and all those excellent EUROPARC experts who know about protected areas through first-hand experience. We don’t use people who only learn from books. Everyone who works for us has, at some stage. worked for a protected area in Europe.
And that is not all. When our experts are working for you they will learn from your experience as well. All that new knowledge then stays within the EUROPARC family. We are not like other consultants who work for a protected area one day and soap powder manufacturers the next day. All our accumulated knowledge and experience is there to be used exclusively for European protected areas. So that there is even “more bang for your buck” next time.
We are owned, of course, by the EUROPARC Federation. They are our only shareholder and we want to raise the Federation’s profile. We are also there to generate funds for the Federation so that it can do more work for its members. How do we that? By providing high-quality low-cost expert consultancy services for the whole Federation network through engaging appropriate practioners from the vast EUROPARC pool.
The range of our services is huge: from individual pieces of consultancy work for protected-area authorities to the implementation of larger projects for government institutions and international funding bodies.
In the last few years we have developed some particularly impressive packages of work which have found international recognition. In particular, we have
Above all, we are flexible in our work and will adapt our services to meet your particular needs. Although we are part of the EUROPARC family we do not ask for any special favours. All we want is to be allowed to submit a tender or work out a proposal for you. For any informal initial discussion please contact Wilf Fenten via telephone +44 1729 860 003 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Posted on: 15th March 2010
Springing into action
Optimism is in the air, here at the offices of EUROPARC Consulting. The first new lambs are already appearing in the sheltered fields around, and the newborn's cries join the early morning chorus of vigorous bird song. As nature's activities start to emerge from under the cold blanket of winter we begin to plan the challenges for the coming year.
The spa town of Szczawnica in Poland will welcome our Training Champions together for their first meeting of 2010. The Peak District National Park is the planned venue for the EUROPARC Atlantic Isles' summer seminar, and the work programme for the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism is slotting into place as the new batch of hopeful applicants await judgement!
We are also eagerly putting in more tenders and Expressions of Interest for new work opportunities for example in Bosnia Herzegovina, Romania, Ukraine, and Macedonia, spreading our wings into new geographical areas for placing our adaptable experts. Not only are we exploring new horizons but we are also pursuing projects in Germany, Sweden, Italy and UK.
As always, we are keen to work more closely with EUROPARC sections. We are looking to establish ever closer links with our colleagues, and to get to know Federation Council members better. Learning from the knowledge and enthusiasm of staff involved in ongoing and proposed projects, we hope to be able to tailor our services more exactly to your consulting needs. EUROPARC Consulting welcome approaches Europe-wide for projects where our extensive in-house expertise can offer a highly time and cost-effective input.
With the cheerful promise of a beautiful Yorkshire spring on the horizon, and the storks once again return to their nest sites across the mainland we look positively towards new challenges, new projects and an influx of new work to boost our financial contribution to maintaining Europe's magnificent landscapes.
Posted on: 19th February 2010
Every year, EUROPARC Consulting evaluates and verifies numerous applications for the prestigious European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas. In this News Update Paulo Castro, one of the many experienced EUROPARC Consulting verifiers, takes a detached look at the evaluation process for the European Charter.
Since 2001, right from the beginning of European Charter, I have worked for EUROPARC Consulting as a verifier. This has given me a unique opportunity to see the evolution of the Charter process along these years, with many Charter area verifications in Spain, Italy, France, Great Britain and other countries. I have also had the wonderful opportunity to carry out the first set of re-evaluations five years after the initial award.
So what is it like to do a re-evaluation of a Charter area? What can one expect to see after five years of implementing the Action Plan and all the "collective illusion" of trying to shape the Charter area into a better place to live and visit? Have people worked together as they planned and promised? Was the budget large enough and did it bring the expected results? Is everybody conscious of being in a Charter Area? What do they want from the future?
Many answers aren't easy to find, nor are they always as expected. Surprisingly for me, one of the best indicators is people's self-criticism about how things went and how they could have gone better. Again, surprisingly, I have seen budgets much higher than the initial one! Significant, isn't it? Obviously, people don't talk all day talking just about the Charter; they have better things to do. Unsurprisingly, the Charter after the first 5-year term, has brought about any promise of Shangri-la!
But even if I didn't see the "promised land", I found a place where there is enthusiasm about the future, where people are investing in tourism and investing differently, where sustainability means something and where there is a new and different way of doing things: where the idea of "Park" is more a purpose and a reason for working and investing together in a much more coordinated way.
People, institutions and local stakeholders want a future and work for it. More and more it tends to be a common future. Whilst in may still not be Eden, I always find that the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism did give people the proper tool to move things in the right direction.
Why I am so convinced about it? Because I have just returned from another protected area which presented itself for re-evaluation process. And they are sure that they want to stay a Charter area for another 5-year term!
Posted on: 8th January 2010
As the 2009 year closed, so did winter's grasp on Yorkshire, home to the EUROPARC Consulting's offices. Snow locked the landscape in an icy grip, fastening icicles to rock and branch, while scything cold winds swept the snow into fantastical shapes. Hill farmers dug sheep from beneath snow drifts; traffic slithered and slipped; and airport runways closed. A strange and unusual farewell to the old year, and a wintery welcome to the new!
The work goes on for EUROPARC Consulting, the prolonged cold arriving as it did at the same time as the new application dossiers for the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism. A glance from the warmth of the office window to the winter landscapes beyond often revealed the postman or courier delivering the next batch; carrying with each the hopes and aspirations of the applicants.
In working for the Federation's best product, the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas, we constantly strive to promote the aims of the Federation as a whole whilst, at the same time, streamlining the process and making Charter work more and more efficient. We were really encouraged throughout 2009 by the interest that continues to be shown in this flagship initiative. Its reputation spreads across boundaries, leading to enquiries from new applicant countries such as Slovakia, Lithuania and Latvia.
Here the more experienced countries, together with the expert verifiers who have worked to promote the Charter since its early days, have played a vital role in cementing the best practices and qualities of successful ECST protected areas; offering guidance, expertise and mentoring to more poorly resourced and less familiar areas.
New applications have arrived from Norway, Italy, France and Spain, and an ongoing commitment to the process is underlined by the good number of re-evaluations both underway and incoming. Also heartening in a strange way is the fact that certain protected areas have postponed their evaluations in order to strengthen weaker areas of their application. It has been the clear view of the Evaluation Committee that the standards of the Charter should not be weakened as the popularity of the process expands.
The Charter exists only as an effective tool if the requirements and processes are engaged with at a high level across the whole range of expectations. That some of the applicants desire to present the very best possible evidence, that they are prepared to delay further after so much hard work demonstrates commitment and an genuine understanding that the Charter is far from being just a 'box-ticking' exercise. We wish everyone involved 'good luck' in the evaluation process throughout 2010.
Much work continues in all other areas too; we are always looking for new area to expand into ? tendering for a variety of projects: in Romania and Ukraine; launching Expressions of Interest for exciting possibilities in Bosnia Herzegovina and regions of the former Yugoslavia, and much else besides.
We are here for you:
EUROPARC Consulting GmbH, The Shaws, Selside, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 0HZ Tel: +44 (0)1729 860003