Look back on the Centralparks Final Conference - We did it!

On the 23rd and 24th of March 2022, the Centralparks project held its Final Conference. The Conference was organised in hybrid format: participants could join on-line via Zoom, as well as attend in-person in Wieliczka, Poland. We are more than happy to say, that the conference was a great success. Almost 40 speakers, and all-together 155 participants present in-person and online gave their time and resources to attend and to contribute. 

A vision for the Carpathians

The conference was opened by Isidoro De Bortoli, the project´s coordinator from Eurac Research, together with Monika Ochwat-Marcinkiewitz, from the local organiser Ekopsychology Society, who welcomed the participants. Further introductory remarks for all participants were delivered by Roman Cherepanyn (Senior conservation expert, WWF Ukraine), Lukasz Rejt (Director of the Department of Nature Conservation of the Ministry for Climate and Environment of Poland) and Lubor Jusko (Joint Secretariat of the Interreg Central Europe Programme). 

Following thematic speeches were held by Harald Egerer, (Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention), Przemysław Oginski (European Commission, DG Environment), Boris Erg (IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia), Andreas Beckmann (WWF Central and Eastern Europe) as well as Guido Plassmann (Alparc). These speeches also focused on a vision for building back better and stronger after the war in Ukraine, building on solidarity and unity.

Following some very powerful speeches, the Centralparks consortium has presented the project outputs after three years of intense work:

  • Integration of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in the Carpathian region presented by Zbigniew Niewiadomski (Ekopsychology Society, Poland), Ewelina Zajac (Pieniny National Park, Poland), Bernadetta Zawilinska (Cracow University of Economics, Poland), Borbála Szabó-Major (Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate, Hungary), Zuzana Okániková (Pronatur, Slovakia), Marie Petru (VIS Bílé Karpaty, Czechia), and Roman Maňák (VIS Bílé Karpaty, Czechia).
  • Building capacities of Carpathian PAs managers presented by Borbála Szabó-Major (Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate, Hungary), Tibor Standovár (Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary), Soma Horváth (Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate, Hungary) and Ferenc Szmorad (WPT2 stakeholder).
  • Carpathian Ecosystem Services Toolkit presented by Ján Kadlečík (State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic), Ján Černecký (State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic), Radoslav Považan (Pronatur, Slovakia) and Juraj Švajda (Matej Bel University, Slovakia).
  • Ingredients of good communication presented by Hanna Öllös (European Wilderness Society).

The final closing remarks of the day were provided by Harald Egerer and Przemysław Oginski.


Good practices in the Carpathians and beyond

On the second day, we also had the opportunity to get an overview of the projects SaveGREEN (Hildegard Meyer, WWF Central and Eastern Europe), DinAlpCONNECT (Filippo Favilli, Eurac Research), ConnectGREEN (Gabriella Nagy, CEEweb) and BEECH POWER (Marcus Waldherr, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development), presenting their good practice experiences focusing on sustainable development, related to the Carpathian region and beyond.

This workshop was followed by a moderated panel discussion, focusing on the opportunities of transnational cooperation and networking for an effective Protected Areas´ management beyond borders, and to inspire closer cooperation and exchange between protected area networks. The session explored the topics of Governance, Communication, Cooperation, Strengths and Weaknesses as well as Partnership within five protected area networks:

  • Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (represented by Mircea Verghelet, Director of Piatra Craiului National Park and Chair of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas Steering Committee)
  • Alpark (represented by Guido Plasmann, Director of Alparc, Alpine Network of Protected Areas)
  • DANUBEPARKS (represented by Georg Frank, Secretary General of DANUBEPARKS, Danube Network of Protected Areas)
  • Parks Dinarides (represented by Vladana Vojinović (Programme manager in Parks Dinarides)
  • Carpathian Wetland Initiative (represented by Ján Kadlečík, Coordinator of the Carpathian Wetland Initiative) 

In the afternoon of the 24th of March, participants had the chance to visit the extraordinary UNESCO Wieliczka salt mine, its countless chambers and centuries of history. In parallel, the Steering Committee meeting of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas was held, on which the main conclusions of the Centralparks project, and the conference contents in connection to the future of the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas were drawn up.

Thank you for your involvement!

Dear speakers, participants, organisers and all supporting in the background, thank you for having made this event a great success, which allowed us to look back on an exciting, eventful and successful three years of European cooperation in our Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Centralparks project.

During that time, three thematic work packages were implemented across Central Europe. Through the pilot actions and activities, a wide range of innovative tools and solutions were developed, implemented, communicated and disseminated at a local, regional and cross-border level. 

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to each of you who participated in Centralparks Final Conference, as well as throughout the whole project implementation. You made Centralparks a success and it was a great pleasure to see so many of you accompanying our concluding steps!