Our Regional Nature Parks of Europe are of vital importance. Their potential for the sustainable development of rural areas, for recreation and tourism, for environmental education and for nature conservation is still far from being exhausted. Often they are undervalued by the public and underinvested by decision makers.

The project „Europe’s Nature, Regional and Landscape Parks“ aimed at strenghtening European Regional Nature Parks by connecting park associations throughout Europe and promoting the parks’ value towards European decision makers. It was carried out by the Association of German Nature Parks (Verband Deutscher Naturparke e.V., VDN) from October 2014 to November 2017 in cooperation with EUROPARC Federation and supported by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation with funding from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. A working group of Nature-, Regional-, and Landscape-Park experts from seven European countries gave advice on the project implementation.

The project met with great interest among Regional Nature Park umbrella organisations and the competent authorities in the European states. For the first time, the project identified a group of Regional Nature Parks in the large number of protected areas in the European states that had thus far not been described jointly. In most countries, the areas summarised here under the general term “Regional Nature Parks” are called Nature Parks, Landscape Parks or Regional Parks.

In their tasks and operation, they share common points and provide valuable services for individual states, regions, local residents and Europe. The responsible actors in Regional Nature Park management and the supporting organisations are committed to the people and nature in their regions and at the same time to a sustainable and future-proof Europe.

As part of the project, in June 2017 the book “Living Landscapes. Europe‘s Nature, Regional and Landscape Parks – Model Regions for the Sustainable Development of Rural Areas” was published. The book contains a description of the development of Regional Nature Parks in Europe and their tasks and work areas. The spotlight is placed on the benefits that Regional Nature Parks offer to the European Union, the individual European states and society. The book also contains a separate chapter on the work of Regional Nature Parks in 20 EU Member States, as well as in Switzerland and Norway.

The “First European Summit of Regional Nature Parks” was held in Brussels on 21 June 2017, where Regional Nature Park representatives from 20 European states signed the joint declaration “Regional Nature Parks – Working for Europe”.

The result brochure published in November 2017 summarises the results of the project: The accomplishments of Regional Nature Parks at the European level and in the individual states are identified, the framework conditions for successful development and work of the Regional Nature Parks elaborated, and recommendations for the support of the work of Regional Nature Parks are voiced.