Author: Miranda García (AEIDL)
The MOVING project recently hosted its third European Multi-Actor Platform (EU MAP) webinar, titled “Protected natural sites: A constraint or an opportunity for mountain value chains?”. The event, held on 5 October 2023, brought together around 70 attendees from research, public authorities, advisory services, businesses, producers, and other EU-funded projects, representing over 20 countries.
This webinar was built upon the findings of a study conducted by Blanca Casares (AEIDL), in close collaboration with the 23 MOVING Regions. This study sought to explore the respondents’ perceptions of the impacts of natural sites on mountain value chains, with an emphasis on the challenges and opportunities by a social, economic and environmental point of view.
During the webinar, Professor Mar Delgado, the project coordinator from the University of Córdoba, offered an overview of MOVING’s latest progress and accomplishments. These included the identification of over 160 adaptation mechanisms and an in-depth analysis of the 23 MOVING mountain value chains..
Hence, the ongoing policy discussion and evolution of the European legal framework were presented by two guest speakers. Kenny Meganck, Biodiversity Policy Analyst at the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), provided updates on the proposal for an EU’s Nature Restoration Law, and its amended text.
Additionally, An Cliquet, Professor at the University of Ghent and member of the Society for Ecological Restoration Europe Legal Working Group, presented the existing proposal for the implementation of National Restoration Plans at the Member State level. Mrs. Cliquet addressed the misconceptions and underscored the importance of multi-level governmental dialogue. The European Commission’s proposal for the Nature Restoration Law has been recently voted by the European Parliament and currently being negotiated by the European Commission, Parliament and Council, and its approval is expected by April 2024.
Roberto Aquerreta, from the World Network of Mountain Biosphere Reserves, explained the concept of biosphere reserves and presented the network’s roadmap for the next two years and its thematic groups.
Blanca Casares, our partner from the European Association for Innovation in Local Development (AEIDL), presented the results of the MOVING study on protected natural sites in MOVING regions. The study revealed that 82.6% of the 23 surveyed mountain areas claimed that the presence of natural areas is an opportunity as it brings economic, environmental, and social benefits. Nonetheless, 43.5% of the 23 surveyed mountain areas acknowledged that protected natural sites posed certain constraints on mountain value chains, including heightened regulations on business activities, land and resource use, and limitations on tourism and visitor management.
The webinar also featured presentations on three MOVING reference regions: the Šumava Reference Region by Tomáš Uhnák (Czech University of Life Sciences), the Austrian Alps Reference Region by Sandra Karner (Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture – IFZ), andthe Southern Romanian Carpathian Mountains Reference Region by Alina Alexa (Highclere Consulting).
Discussions continued with participants in parallel breakout rooms. A significant emphasis was put on the necessity to deliver appropriate capacity building and raising awareness on the positive synergies between protected natural sites and mountain value chains. This awareness raising should occur not only at the national level but also among local stakeholders, farmers, and natural park managers.
Furthermore, participants called for a stronger multi-level governance, alignment of land use management strategies with territorial development opportunities and better funding. They also stressed the importance of implementing schemes that recognise high-value products connected to the preservation of natural protected sites and called for better alignment with the Common Agricultural Policy.
The event concluded with a roundtable discussion featuring two special guests: Tommaso Campedelli, the scientific coordinator of the LIFE ShepForBio project and LIFE GRANATHA, and Stefano Sala, from UNIMONT, member of Euromontana and lead partner of the new Horizon Europe MountResilience project.
Mr. Campedelli highlighted the importance of protected areas for economic activity in mountain region, and the need for improved communication, training, and community involvement. On the other hand, Mr. Sala reflected on the increasing challenges of land use and land management conflicts in mountainous areas. He advocated for a substantial overhaul of ongoing dialogues and strategies, carefully planned and adapted by administrative bodies to address the evolving needs of these regions.
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