Project acronym: BEECH POWER
Project index number: CE1340
Lead partner organization: Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Germany
Project partners: European Wilderness Society, Austria; Kalkalpen National Park, Austria; Angermünde City Administration, Germany; Slovenia Forest Service, Slovenia; National Forest Centre, Slovakia; PubliC Institution Paklenica National Park, Croatia
Associated partners: Austrian Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism; Ministry of Rural Development, Austria; Environment and Agriculture of the Federal State of Brandenburg, Germany; CEEweb for Biodiversity, Hungary; State Nature Conservancy of Slovak Republic, Slovakia; Hainich National Park, Germany; Biosphere Reserve Schorfheide-Chorin, Germany; Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Slovenia; Municipality Loška dolina, Slovenia; Municipality Kočevje, Slovenia; European Beech Forest Network e.V., Germany; World Natural Heritage Beech Forest Grumsin e.V., Germany; Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic; Slovakia; Municipality of Starigrad, Croatia
Short description of the project: The UNESCO World Heritage (WH) Site „Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe“ represents the most complex transnational serial natural site in the UNESCO portfolio – comprising 78 component parts in 45 protected areas (PAs) in 12 countries. The program area shares almost 25% of the components parts distributed in 5 countries (AT, DE, HR, SK, and SI). While local management units of the component parts face similar challenges, i.e. concerning buffer zone management, the respective environmental and socio-economic contexts differ considerably on the local and national levels. The project takes an ecosystem-based and participatory approach working on different administrative levels to anchor the WH site in sustainable regional development and produce replicable and innovative models for WH beech forests and their local surroundings.
The main objective: The main project objective is to improve the management quality and effectiveness of the WH site to safeguard the ecosystem integrity of the single component parts by improving capacities and active participation possibilities of relevant stakeholders.
The main project outputs: The main outputs are guidelines and strategies for stakeholder participation and regional development, a handbook for buffer zone management, recommendations for visitor management, a communication concept, and a Beech Forest Quality Standard that support protected area administrations, public authorities, and actors from civil society in their daily work. The results will be applicable for other WH component parts outside the program area
The main project elements: Empowering World Heritage Beech communities as a model for ecosystem-based sustainable development; Creation of a sustainable model for buffer zone management around World Heritage Beech forests; Development of an exemplary European Beech Forest Quality Standard and Certification System; Communication.
Total project budget: 1.864.328,98 EUR
ERDF Co-financing: 1.525.058,32 EUR
Project implementation period: 1.4.2019 – 31.3.2022
Project website: www.interreg-central.eu/BEECH-POWER
More information: www.european-beech-forest.network
NEWS ABOUT THE PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION
The third meeting of the local working group Education, interpretation, promotion, and visibility
As a follow-up to the second meeting of the local working group, PI Paklenica NP and external expertise organized the third on-line meeting of the working group Education, Interpretation, Promotion, and Visibility which was held on March 16th 2021
Meanwhile, the members of the working group developed and provided elements for the two activities which were selected for more detailed elaboration and share the content that would be part of those activities.
A total of 49 ideas were received of which, 26 ideas were received for the activity Development of the education material for beech forests and education props, and 23 ideas were received for the activity Promotion of the WH site through printed materials - leaflets, picture books, worksheets and other materials - design, printing materials.
Meanwhile, PI Paklenica NP was working on the selection of ideas that were evaluated in the previous meeting. Of 27 ideas, PI Paklenica NP selected 18 ideas to be included in the Working Program. The criteria in the selection process were:
- combine suggestions/ideas of similar content and purpose
- at least 25% of ideas with the partnership of local stakeholders
- ideas that fulfill the goals of the Visitor Management Plan
- Ideas that fulfill the goals of the Annual Program for 2021
- Preference was given to ideas that were likely to be implemented until the end of 2023.
At the beginning of the meeting, an overview of 18 ideas was given, which PI Paklenica NP selected to be included in the Working Program, and after that followed the ranking process of 49 ideas which were received by the members in meanwhile. The ranking process is designed to put each member of the working group in the position of a visitor and to ask which of the ideas would interest them the most. In the ranking process, we used symbols as in the previous meeting (each participant could assign 0-3 symbols for each idea).
When the ranking process finished, a joint discussion followed. We invited all members of the working group to express their opinions on the implementation process of this working group and we got positive comments. They liked coordination between meetings, the materials prepared for the meetings, and the ideas developed during those meetings.
It was agreed that all members would receive the draft of the Working Program by e-mail and they will get the opportunity to comment on it.
The second meeting of the local working group Education, interpretation, promotion, and visibility
As a follow-up to the kick-off meeting held in January 2021, the second on-line meeting of the working group Education, Interpretation, Promotion, and Visibility was held on 22nd February 2021.
Meanwhile, the members of the working group raised their ideas on how to improve the education and promotion of the World Heritage site in Paklenica National Park. A total of 82 ideas were received, presented at the meeting, and evaluated.
Ideas were classified into three main groups:
- Informing, promotion and enhancing visibility
- Education and interpretation
- Cooperation with local communities (with an emphasis on the preservation of the World Heritage sites)
The criteria in the evaluation process were: 1. Contribution to the objectives; 2. Feasibility; 3. Financing; 4. Marketing reach.
Since the meeting was held in a virtual environment, the evaluation had to be adapted to the possibilities offered by the Zoom platform and it was decided that in the evaluation process we would use symbols in a way that each participant could assign 0-3 symbols for each idea, depending on how much he/she likes each activity when he/she takes into account all 4 criteria.
After the evaluation process, 27 ideas were selected to be taken into account for the development of the Work Program, and out of those, 2 ideas were selected to be elaborate in detail within the Work Program. The two ideas selected for extended elaboration are:
- Development of the education material for beech forests (photos, videos, PowerPoint presentations) and education props (puzzles, beech bark, leaf, shoot, fruit)
- Promotion of the WH site through printed materials - leaflets, picture books, worksheets and other materials - design, printing materials.
The next step that precedes the next meeting planned in the first part of March, is that the members of the working group develop and provide elements for the two activities which were selected for more detailed elaboration and provide the content that would be part of those activities.
The kick-off meeting of the working group Education, interpretation, promotion, and visibility
The online kick-off meeting of the working group Education, interpretation, promotion, and visibility was organized on January 27th, 2021 by Public Institution Paklenica National Park and external experts.
The aim of the working group is to create several activities related to:
- Education about WH sites (Suva draga-Klimenta and Oglavinovac-Javornik) and interpretation of the World Heritage
- Promotion and increasing visibility of UNESCO World Heritage which the aimed at raising awareness of the importance of site protection and the benefits that this international designation can provide to the local community
Activities related to education and interpretation will be directed to the local community and visitors, while activities related to promotion and visibility will be directed exclusively to the local community.
After introductory speeches and presentations, PI Paklenica NP gave a presentation on the topic of the BEECH POWER Project, the stages of its implementation, and the goals and results of the Project. In the next presentation, the moderator gave a short overview of the Participatory Strategy development workshop. Then, the moderator held an introductory presentation on the concept of the working group, tasks of members of working groups, and the expected results. Discussion and suggestions by the members of the working group followed the presentations.
The next meeting of the working group is planned for the first half of February.
A proposal of the working program will be developed as the final result of the meetings of the working group.
Workshop on Participatory strategy development in Paklenica National Park
Online Participatory strategy development workshop was organized on December 11th, 2020 by Public Institution Paklenica National Park and moderated by external experts. Faced with the resulting pandemic situation, the workshop had to be held remotely, via the Zoom application.
The aim of the workshop, according to which it was guided and directed, was to contribute to the development of the Regional Strategy and appropriate work program to strengthen cooperation between protected areas, associated sectors (tourism, science and education, forestry, etc.), and local communities and additional participatory processes.
The workshop Participatory strategy development represents a continuation of the previous workshop Participatory situation analysis, based on the results of which, with relevant stakeholders and experts from the project area, a Regional Strategy and appropriate work programs will be developed.
The stakeholders were divided into two groups, each group had its own moderator. The expert team of the Client and the Contracting Authority divided all present participants into two working groups based on the principle that both groups have equal representation of stakeholders according to their areas of interest. The work in groups took place on the MIRO platform. The facilitators encouraged discussion among stakeholders on the following topics:
1. Tourism and visitor management
2. Regional and local development
3. Education and research
4. Cooperation and management
After the end of the part of the workshop during which the group work was conducted, all participants gathered together again in the plenary part of the workshop, which was intended for joint discussion, analysis, and evaluation of the contributions made in each of the groups. The most important activities and measures that will contribute to the development of the Regional Strategy were identified and prioritized through a joint discussion.
Workshop on Situation analysis in Paklenica National Park
The online Situation Analysis workshop was organized on September 28th, 2020 by Public Institution Paklenica National Park and moderated by external experts. Faced with the resulting pandemic situation, the workshop had to be held remotely, via the Zoom application. The methodology of implementation of the workshop was prescribed and it was Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation.
The workshop started with a short introduction of each participant which was followed by the presentation about the BEECH POWER project and the presentation about methodology Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, the scope of the workshop. The participants were also familiarized with the site features and current management status. The stakeholders were divided into two groups of their choice, each group had its own moderator. The first group discussed the state of the WH area and what is being done well in conservation, and what can be done better. The second group discussed the topic: What are the new opportunities and how to take advantage of them and what are the next steps.
The results of the first group discussions were general agreement on the current level of protection of UNESCO WH sites in the NP which was rated satisfactory due to the fact that the sites are located within a national park, where according to the Nature Protection Act, any economic activity and forest exploitation is prohibited. The management regime of the Park (zoning) significantly contributes to the preservation of naturalness and protection of the site, and the zoning is currently being restored in order to raise the protection to an even higher level.
The common conclusions of the second group were: the need to educate visitors and all interested parties about localities, meaning and behavior, the need to include children and youth that can be included in various educational programs, the need to educate visitors and all interested, taking advantage of additional better promotions, both for the whole park and for localities, listing provides additional tools for the protection of the whole area and localities, in particular, establishing better communication and cooperation with a wider range of stakeholders, establishing a partnership council is a good opportunity.
The results of the workshop in Croatia will complete the results from similar workshops on Situation Analysis held in Germany and Slovenia. Summarized in the joint report, they will be used as a starting point for the upcoming workshops in Strategy development.