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: 6th November 2012
From 22nd - 25th October 2012, Wilf Fenten, Managing Director of EUROPARC Consulting, attended the annual EUROPARC Conference in Genk, Belgium. In the interview below Wilf talks about his four days at the conference and what makes the conference such a positive experience year after year.
- Wilf, what is the annual EUROPARC Conference exactly?
The annual EUROPARC Conference and General Assembly takes place in a different European country each year. It brings together between 300 and 500 protected areas, ministries responsible for protected areas and major European conservation organisations. The theme of the conference, a subject of current importance for European protected areas, also changes every year. In 2012 the various workshops, presentations and study visits explored the theme of connecting and re-connecting nature with other people, with businesses and with each other.
- The conference is a chance for hundreds of like-minded people in the field of protected-area management to meet each year. Can you describe the atmosphere at this year’s conference?
It was an exciting mixture of some excellent presentations, a huge selection of workshops, many varied site visits and lots of side events. Most importantly of all, it was possible during the breaks and at meal times to meet as many colleagues and clients as was possible. The venue itself, a set of former coal mine buildings, lent itself brilliantly to the central theme and the conference.
- Why is the conference important for EUROPARC Consulting?
The annual conference allows us to meet again with old friends and clients but also to make new contacts with people from all over Europe. Together with our chairman, Richard Partington, I was able to talk to many, many people and explain to them the important role that EUROPARC Consulting plays within the EUROPARC family. Our role is basically threefold: (a) to provide low-cost high-quality expert consultancy services for the Federation network by engaging appropriate experts from its pool; (b) to generate funds for the EUROPARC Federation and (c) to help raise the Federation’s profile in Europe. At previous conferences we were also delighted to be more involved in the organisation - managing the workshops or writing the conference report.
- Which workshop did you attend and why? Did it fulfil your expectations?
I was particularly keen on a workshop which examined the role of geology in designated landscapes. It was excellent in that explored a rather forgotten aspects of our work. We all know that all that wonderful flora and fauna is totally dependent on the underlying geology. We have “Wild Wonders of Europe”, one of the largest nature photo libraries in the world. Why not have a “Wild Geology of Europe” photo library showing some of the breathtaking geological features in our protected areas?
- Tell us something about the excursion you attended during the conference. The field trip to the Maas-Swalm-Nette protected areas was an eye opener. This transboundary area between the Netherlands and Germany is a magic patchwork of heath, wetlands and river landscape. Where less than 60 years ago soldiers were fighting each other there is now a peaceful piece of nature where you can criss-cross the border as often as you like.
- This year saw the 100th Charter area awarded with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas during the conference. Describe the Charter award ceremony in a few words. Just to see the geographical distribution of all those Charter areas was wonderful – from Scandinavia to the south of Italy, from Slovakia to Wales. Great stuff! EUROPARC Consulting can be proud of having carried out the administration for every one of them. Oh and you can read about the 100th Charter area Monte Rufeno Nature Reserve on our website. Just visit our news page and look scroll through the articles posted in October.
- What was the best thing about this year’s conference for you personally and on a business level for EUROPARC Consulting? We came back with several new orders and lots of enquiries. EUROPARC Consulting was also able to start the recruiting process for a possible 10 to 15 new EUROPARC Federation members in the next 18 months.
- What was the one thing that you would have liked to have seen done differently at the conference and why? I would love EUROPARC Consulting to have a much higher profile at the conference. I know how much we can contribute positively to the EUROPARC network. A bit more “airtime” at the conference would help us and EUROPARC in general to raise the profile of our common work amongst protected area practitioners.
- Did you learn anything new about the conference theme that’s particularly important for or that you will implement in your work at EUROPARC Consulting? The conference highlighted again that nature conservation and landscape protection must not create “nature ghettos” without connection. We must work ever harder to create and strengthen the connections between designated landscapes.
The next EUROPARC Conference will take place from 9th – 13th October in Hungary. The topic is protected area management and this will be explored through great keynote speeches, fun workshops, and exciting excursions at Hortobagy National Park. The EUROPARC Federation and Hortobagy will both be celebrating their 40th anniversary at the conference. Here's a sneak preview. EUROPARC Consulting are looking forward to it already.
Posted on: 25th October 2012
EUROPARC Consulting to carry out an independent objective evaluation
“The landscapes on our doorstep are spectacular. They are ancient. They are diverse. They’re full of stories…spine-tingling stories that set your eyes alight and your hair on end…Somehow hearing the stories of our landscapes can make you feel more alive, refreshed, enhanced.” www.our-land.co.uk/copy/about-us
Reconnecting people with nature is currently a hot topic within the EUROPARC network and also across Europe in the field of nature conservation. Europe’s protected areas, nature conservationists and environmental organisations are increasingly driven by the question ‘how can we get the general public more interested in what we do?’ “Our Land – Experiences to Treasure” is a pioneering project that has taken this issue a step further. The initiative uses a unique mix of storytelling and sustainable tourism to awaken interest in nine designated landscapes in the South East of England.
The members of the South East Protected Landscapes group (SEPL), the Chilterns Conservation Board, Cotswolds Conservation Board, High Weald AONB, Isle of Wight AONB, Kent Downs AONB, New Forest National Park, North Wessex Downs AONB, South Downs National Park and Surrey Hills AONB, many of whom are EUROPARC members, are the initiators of “Our Land”. For a number of years they have been considering ways of promoting and developing sustainable tourism together. They discovered that what connected each landscape was their distinctiveness and the reflection of this in a variety of local stories. The resulting four year project, “Our Land”, is hosted by Surrey County Council and funded by the Rural Development Programme for England.
After a separately funded feasibility study the scheme began in earnest at the end of 2010. One of the main outputs of the project has already been achieved: an online platform, www.our-land.co.uk, has been created where the participating landscapes collectively promote sustainable tourism. The website also promotes and sells a variety of SEPL holiday experiences that were developed specifically for the project. These holidays are also being promoted by the projects official media partner responsibletravel.com.
What’s new and innovative about this project is not necessarily the online platform itself but the way the experiences are being marketed. The short breaks that Our Land offers are being sold as experiences. They have been hand-picked for their sustainability and for their ability to create a strong connection between Our Landers and the landscape they are visiting and thus a meaningful travel experience. Each member business has to fulfil “The Promise to Our Land” before they can participate. By completing The Promise they demonstrate their commitment to the local region, to sustainable practices, and pledge to put the landscape at the heart of the visitor experience by telling stories of its food, buildings, history, people and wildlife. This approach not only boosts revenue in these beautiful places but also guarantees their effective long-term protection.
So how is EUROPARC Consulting involved in this innovative project? We are delighted to have been contracted to carry out an independent objective evaluation of Our Land and to be working closely with these nine spectacular protected areas. As the leading European company that specialises in protected area management we can bring our depth of experience and understanding of how these distinctive landscapes require care and also provide opportunities for sustainable tourism. Our job will be to assess the progress of the initiative so far and make recommendations for its effectiveness and operation until the project ends in 2014 as well as for its continued strategic development after that.
The EUROPARC Consulting team, Sue Goodfellow and Richard Partington with support from Wilf Fenten and Anne Webster back in the office, bring exactly the right skills and experience to carry out these tasks competently and efficiently. They are all very much looking forward to helping these protected landscapes in the UK to achieve their goals and deliver projects which are at the very heart of the EUROPARC ethos - sharing knowledge and learning about these special places and the people who live in and visit them. Sue and Richard will listen to those involved and produce robust recommendations which will promote new ideas and suggestions alongside undertaking a clear evaluation. These together will lay strong foundations for the future of the project.
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