European Charter Parks - A Growing Network for Sustainable Tourism Development in Protected Areas

The featured study analyses how the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (ECST) criteria cover the basic CBD framework expressed in the CBD Aichi Targets, how successfully the sustainable development indicators have been developed, and how they can be used for verifying the system benefits. According to the author's analyses the ECST methodology strongly supports most of the Aichi Targets, out of 20 Targets, 11 directly and five indirectly.

The analyses of key indicators for the social and economic benefits are based on case studies from the European Charter Network, especially in the Baltic Sea Region in Europe.
The findings show that the core methodologies of the ECST support the Aichi targets. The CBD’s and ECST’s guidelines on tourism and biodiversity both define sustainable tourism by three basic approaches:
  1. community involvement and participation;
  2. community benefit; and
  3. environmental preservation.
Currently there are 107 protected areas in 13 European countries certified and working under the ECST. Annually, some 10-15 new candidates strive for the Charter Award Certificate. The Charter methodology has been under continuous development since 2000 including definition of the criteria, harmonisation of the target and action standards, and giving more attention to the benefit opportunities and options of the Charter process. In this development process, the common framework has been the CBD sustainable tourism guidelines and their application in the European context. The other major focus has been in developing benefit indicators.
The European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas ECST is an evaluation system of the EUROPARC Federation that was started as early as 2001 to help protected areas in their mission to plan, implement and monitor tourism development in a sustainable and future-oriented way. It is, thus, managed sustainably from the ecological, social and environmental perspective. Tourism has a high potential to contribute to the prosperity and economic growth of a region and is acknowledged as a means of preserving traditional customs and local production. The protection purposes of national or nature parks can be easier achieved and financed through responsible tourism. The increasing interest in the ECST, particularly in Southern and Eastern Europe, is proving its importance as a quality management tool to assist an integrated sustainable regional development. The Charter network is with 107 participants the largest European-wide network of its kind.
The ECST is becoming increasingly popular and its profile more and more well known. An article on the Charter that appeared in the December edition of the ICUN-WCPA Parks Journal (p. 132) has helped to raise the Charters profile even more.

Read the whole article by clicking on this link and turning to p.132 of the December edition of the IUCN-WCPA Parks Journal


Wilf Fenten,

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