ProPark to support protected areas in Romania and beyond
Start-up funds for ProPark have been provided by the 2012 Protected Areas for a Living Planet programme implemented by the WWF Danube-Carpathian Progamme with support from the MAVA Foundation as well as by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) with support from the Mitsubishi Corporation Fund for Europe and Africa.
“ProPark should play an important role in addressing the major need in Romania and the region more generally for improved human resources related to protected areas and biodiversity conservation, both of practitioners as well as those making decisions about protected areas,” said Erika Stanciu, head of the Forests and Protected Areas programme of the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme and a driving force behind the new organisation.
The first protected area management teams in Romania were only established in 2000, and most of the 27 existing park administrations are only 2-3 years old. Following extension of the EU’s Natura 2000 network to Romania, the country’s protected area network is expected soon to increase from the current 8% to more than 19% of total land cover. An overarching National Agency for Protected Areas is currently in the process of being established.
First steps for the ProPark - Foundation for Protected Areas, as it is officially known, will be to develop and implement capacity building programmes related to management of protected areas and designed for practitioners as well as key stakeholder groups such as community leaders and county officials. Another focus will be to provide training and support to state authorities and officials that are relevant for protected area management, including the Ministry of Environment and soon to be established National Administration for Protected Areas.
Summer courses will provide awareness raising and education for children and young people regarding the importance of protected areas and nature conservation in general, and prepare them for activities in these fields that can be carried out either on a volunteer basis or as potential employees.
Andreas Beckmann, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme, M: +43 676 84 27 28 216