The BEECH POWER project officially launched on 12th June in Eberswalde. The three-day kick-off event and two-day conference brought together international project partners as well as associated partners and the interested public to focus on the project main objective: improving the management quality and effectiveness of World Heritage BEECH Forest sites to safeguard the ecosystem integrity of the single component parts. The meeting took place between 12th and 14th June 2019 in Eberswalde, Germany, hosted by the lead partner, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development.
The first day was dedicated to introducing the project topic and placing it in the European World Heritage Beech Forest context. The day was opened by a welcome speech from Prof. Wilhelm-Günther Vahrson, President of the University of Eberswalde, followed by Prof. Pierre Ibisch, co-director of the Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management in the University of Eberswalde and Lead Partner responsible Marcus Waldherr from the Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management.
As a key element of the Kick-off Meeting, Anna Wiktor from the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Joint Secretariat emphasized the importance of cooperation and gave an insight into the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme and an overview on project implementation.
During the following days, with the coordination and moderation of the project manager Marcus Waldherr, partners presented the project Work packages to initiate a discussion among participants. These days focused on building a common understanding on different aspects of the project objective and its implementation. To enrich the start of the three-year-long joint work, each presentation was followed by group work sessions, targeting the technical content of interest to the project partners. These thematic sessions focused on:
- The potential of empowering local World Heritage Beech Communities and how to involve actors surrounding Protected Areas in participatory planning to create an ecosystem-based sustainable development
- The creation of a sustainable World Heritage Beech Forest buffer zone management model, communication concepts for visitor management and the development of a Handbook on sustainable forest management around World Heritage Component Parts
- The development of an exemplary European Beech Forest Quality Standard and Certification System
- The understanding of external project communication strategy aimed at different audiences to exchange information, knowledge and experience and to disseminate the project results to relevant stakeholders
The partners coming from 5 EU countries were involved in lively exchanges focused on sharing experiences among countries and finding possibilities to harmonize responsibilities within the partnership.
The Kick-off Meeting was concluded by a session of setting next steps of within the partnership. Partners discussed about the door of challenges and opportunities that the project opens. The participants expressed their support for the upcoming project activities and felt inspired by the involvement and enthusiasm of various fields working together for a common goal.