Author: Blanca Casares (AEIDL)
Mountains cover 36% of European areas and play an essential role in the well-being of many highly populated European regions. The conservation of mountains is a key factor for sustainable development. To face the challenges of mountain areas, in December 2021 the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) declared the year 2022 as the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development (IYM).
In addition, in an effort to improve the protection of mountainous ecosystems and the livelihoods of mountain communities, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) relaunched its World Network of Mountain Biosphere Reserves.
Inspired by this special moment, the MOVING EU Multi-Actor Platform decided to carry out a survey among its 23 Reference Regions in order to identify the presence of different protected natural sites on them and provide informative insights on the added value, and development implications, of these areas for the MOVING regions and their selected value chains.
To this end, during the months of March and April 2022, information was collected from the 23 reference regions of the project following a participatory approach and comprised in a briefing. The main results show that:
- 40% (9 of 23) of MOVING Reference Regions do not have any biosphere reserves and 60% of them (14 on 23) comprise at least one Biosphere reserve. Of this 60%, 78.6% are at the MRR level, 7.1% at the MRL level and 14.3% at both levels.
The oldest BRs designated are the Wester Ross Biosphere Reserve (1976, UK-Scotland), the Ordesa-Viñamala Biosphere Reserve (1977, Spain – Spanish Pyrenees), the Sierra de Grazalema Biosphere Reserve (1977, Spain – Betic Systems), the Collemeluccio-Montedimezzo Alto Molise Biosphere Reserve (1977, Italy – Central Apennines) and the Falasorma-Dui Sevi Biosphere Reserve (1977, France – Corsica). The latest BRs designated are the Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve (2019, Italy – Eastern Alps) and the Central Balkan Biosphere Reserve (2017, Bulgaria – Stara Planina).
- The Natura 2000 sites seem to be the most common in the MOVING reference regions. Habitats Directive sites are present in 17 of 23 regions and Birds Directive sites in 15 of the 23 regions of the MOVING’s project. It is followed by Protected Landscape/Seascape (15 out of 23), Habitat/Species management area (11 out of 23) times and National Park (10 out of 23).
- The 56.5% of the 23 RRs indicated that the presence of natural areas did not represent a constraint or limitation to the value chain, mountain area and community, while 43.5% did.
- The two most frequently mentioned constraints and restrictions were those related to regulations in business activity or prevention measures (34,8% of the 23 RRs), and land and resources use (30,4% of the 23 RRs). It was followed by limitations related to tourism and visitor management (13% of the 23 RRs).
- 14.4% of the 23 RRs indicated that the presence of natural areas did not represent an opportunity or provide added value to the value chain, mountain area and community, while 82.6% did. The majority of them mentioned mostly economic and environmental aspects, as well as social benefits.
- The 39.1% of the 23 RR coordinators highlighted that the main added values lies in tourism. The 34.8% of the 23 RRs coordinators stressed the opportunity and added value of improving environmental quality, ecosystem resilience and increasing sustainable practices given the presence of natural spaces. The 30.4% of the 23 RRs coordinators reported opportunities in the marketing of food products and improvement of value chains. Finally, 8.7% of the 23 RR coordinators highlighted a greater sustainable development of local mountain communities through conservation favoured by the presence of natural areas.
Check the MOVING Natural Sites briefing!