This year’s EUROPARC Federation Conference, held in Genk, Belgium, from 22nd to 25th October 2012, centered around the theme “Re-connect” through not only re-connecting people with nature, but also nature with nature, companies with biodiversity, and policy with practice. More than 600 participants from across Europe and overseas gathered for an exchange on these issues.
Out of the presentations and workshops, two opposite scenarios for European landscapes were distilled. The first focuses on the conventional preservation of valuable cultural landscapes through sustainable harvesting in the light of the expected 12 to 18 million hectares of agricultural lands that will be abandoned by 2030. This in turn provides unprecedented opportunities for re-wilding these areas, seeing wilderness areas as a new income generator based on wildlife tourism substituting farming.
The conference, which also functions as the EUROPARC Federation’s general assembly, confirmed that in 2013 a new network organization will be established by merging EUROSITE and the EUROPARC Federation. Other highlights included a speech by EU Commissioner Janez Potočnik for the celebration of Natura 2000 and LIFE, and the launch of the EEA report “Protected areas in Europe - an overview”.
The next EUROPARC Conference will be held from 9 to 13 October 2013 in Hortobágy National Park, Hungary, under the theme ”40-years in nature management”.
For more information on this year's conference please visit: http://www.europarc.org/conference-2012/