Centralparks past, present and future
“Civilization is like air or water. Wherever there is a passage, be it only a fissure, it will penetrate and modify the conditions of a country.” ― Jules Verne, The Castle of the Carpathians
The Carpathian region includes both extensive forest and a range of mountains comprising an arc which encompasses both Central and Eastern Europe. Approximately 1,500 km in length, the mountain range is the third-longest in Europe. The magnitude of the area can be imagined when you realise that the region extends over 8 countries: the Czech Republic and Austria in the northwest to Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Romania and Serbia in the south.
The geographical diversity of the region is complemented by its biodiversity, with the Carpathians providing habitats for Europe’s largest populations of wolves, lynxes, brown bears and chamois. Furthermore, the area hosts over one-third of all the continent’s plant species as well as extensive and ancient virgin forests which lay claim to Europe's largest area of unfragmented woodland. And though this may sound idyllic, tension abounds in the sylvan paradise. Deforestation rates due to illegal logging in the Carpathians are high. Illegal poaching of carnivores and birds, illegal fishing of sturgeon and the trade in their caviar is rampant. And although parts of the Carpathians are under protection, these parts constitute less than a fifth - far below the European average of 25%.
The environmental and economic capacities of the region are unquestionable and so is the need to step up wildlife stewardship and sustainable developments in tourism, resource management and ecosystem services - but how? Entering the CENTRALPARKS project:
Isidoro De Bortoli, Eurac Research – Lead Partner of Centralparks:
Before Centralparks, we already had a strong cooperation with the Carpathian Convention, consolidated by the work we did there in the past. We also collaborated on specific schematic protocols produced by the secretariat. It's a long story of strong and very important cooperation.
As lead partners of the project, we coordinated everything in terms of content, and of course also in terms of the administrative work. There’s a lot of such work in these projects, therefore we were really glad to have such a strong consortium of project partners, who did a truly amazing work! They simultaneously implemented a vast number of actions which positively impacted the wildlife, the communities who live in the area. They created comprehensive documents and strategies for the promotion of the sustainable management of the protected area’s resources.
Thanks to the effort of the project partners, Centralparks successfully implemented integrated biodiversity management through transnational multidisciplinary working groups involving experts from the Carpathian countries. It reconciled nature conservation and local socio-economic development through increasing both the support and participation of local communities. Furthermore, we were able to promote transnational networking, a vital aspect for the harmonization of approaches and actions in border and transboundary protected areas within the Carpathians and on a global scale.