Tourism and Biodiversity in Protected Areas
8th European Charter Network Meeting and Charter Awards 2013
Posted: 13th November 2013
EUROPARC brings Protected Areas managers, tourism experts and local businesses from all over Europe to Brussels - to share good practices on tourism management, brainstorm for innovative ideas and strategies, and to honour sustainable tourism achievements across Protected Areas in Europe. Celebrating 40 years Working for Nature at the heart of the EU institutions, this year brings a brighter light to the Charter for Sustainable Tourism Awards.
Early this month, member of the European Parliament, Gaston Franco hosted the 8th EUROPARC Charter Network Meeting where EUROPARC, awarded Protected Areas that are engaged in a sustainable tourism management programme.
The day started with a series of speeches and workshops, hosted by the Marche Region representation in Brussels. More than 70 participants, from 12 European countries were present, among which 19 Protected Areas were awarded.
This day was a great opportunity to gather the Charter community and have their voice heard. As an example, the former President of Mercantour National Park reminded the participants of the great challenges that the parks face; “I want to emphasize the extent to which the parks are the victims of threats to natural capital, both in terms of loss of biodiversity or consequences of climate change. However, Protected Areas are also key players in the fight against these phenomena. Through collection and exchange of data, they represent valuable tools for understanding and monitoring the process of climate change.”
The purpose of the event was to show how tourism and environmental protection can contribute to common goals. The European Charter for Sustainable Tourism developed and implemented by EUROPARC in dozens of Protected Areas in Europe represents a way of governance allowing the reconciliation between biodiversity conservation and economic development of rural areas.
The European Union promotes sustainable tourism especially through the LIFE programme or through its Cohesion Policy. In this field, cross-border cooperation is encouraged. This year, Mercantour National Park and its Italian counterpart, Alpi Marittime united in a European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation, this way giving birth to the first European natural park.
On the eve of the new EU Environment Action Programme, and as a rapporteur, Gaston Franco expressed his wish to recall the spirit of the 7th EU Environment Action Programme (2014-2020): “The environmental legislation should not hinder the development of economic activities, on the contrary, it should serve as a tool to generate positive synergies for a more sustainable growth.”
The Charter has proved to be an effective tool to assist protected areas with the development and implementation of sustainable tourism strategies in their regions, with benefits for nature, for people and local communities. The EUROPARC Federation began developing the Charter in the 1990s through a LIFE project, and today 119 areas are following the principles of the Charter in conducting their tourism activities.
To download the presentation of the speakers, please check our EUROPARC library.