From 16 to 21 October, 18 representatives of the communities of Arpașu de Jos, Avrig, Porumbacu de Jos, Racovița, Sibiu and Turnu Roșu, at the foot of the Făgăraș Mountains, took part in a study trip to the Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria’s largest national park. This was set up on the initiative of local people, as a relevant case study to generate ideas for sustainable development and education programmes for younger generations.
During the visit, representatives of local communities in the Făgăraș Mountains met with the National Park management team, but also with representatives of local authorities and members of organisations developing programmes in partnership with the park, thus getting to know the operating model and its impact on the local economy.
The study visits organised for local communities around the Făgăraș Mountains are intended to demonstrate the potential and impact of a national park for a community. There is a need for local community representatives to see for themselves and experience how a community can benefit from biodiversity conservation efforts and how stakeholders can become part of the decision-making process in partnership with a national park team. The Făgăraș Mountains have the potential to become a driver of economic development for all the surrounding communities if they are properly protected and given National Park status.
The Făgăraș Mountains offer particularly valuable resources that contribute to the well-being and sustainable development of the communities at their foot. Have we thought of all the ways to use them responsibly? Local communities around the Făgăraș Mountains need to have access to information and best practice models that are already working so well in Europe. At the same time, we also need a legal framework that allows for participatory management and encourages efficient and effective management for the benefit of all local communities here.
The Hohe Tauern National Park covers an area of more than 1,800 km2 over three federal states. The landscape is characterised by more than 300 peaks exceeding 3000 m, vast alpine meadows, glaciers and cascading waterfalls. The National Park is home to more than 10,000 species. The National Park is criss-crossed by a network of hiking trails of over 4,300 km. The 60 themed trails and numerous unique exhibitions present the habitats of the Hohe Tauern National Park interactively, and the area has been declared a protected area on the initiative of the locals. Today the National Park generates jobs for the whole area and schools in the area focus on environmental education. Here, children are educated so that they gain the skills they need to live, work and act in ways that help protect the environment.
The field trip was organized by ProPark-Foundation for Protected Areas in partnership with Foundation Conservation Carpathia in the framework of the project ‘Creation of a wilderness area in the southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania – LIFE18 NAT/RO/001082’, implemented by Conservation Carpathia Foundation, in partnership with Carpathia Forestry Association, Piatra Craiului Conservation Hunting Association, SC Carpathia Agro & Finance SRL, Conservation Capital Consulting Ltd., Argeș County Police Inspectorate – Basarab I and ProPark – Foundation for Protected Areas, with financial support from the European Commission through the LIFE Nature programme (www.ec.europa.eu) and the Arcadia Foundation through the ELP programme (Endangered Landscapes Programme, www.endangeredlandscapes.org).