The project consists of three main work packages focusing on World Heritage Beech communities, buffer zone management and guidelines for Beech Forest qualities standards.
Work Package T1
Empowering World Heritage Beech communities as model for ecosystem-based sustainable development
The main purpose of this work package is to sustainably enhancing the cooperation between protected areas comprising World Heritage component parts an adjacent communities on a regional and transnational level. This will be achieved by 3 outputs, which include (i) governance strategies for incorporating natural heritage in regional sustainable development and for actively involving local stakeholders in planning processes, (ii) models for the creation of participatory processes in the surroundings of selected protected areas and (iii) a pilot network of World Heritage Beech Forest communities.
The outputs contribute to the project specific objectives as they focus on active participation of local/regional public authorities and civil society in the management of selected WH component parts and their surroundings by developing relevant strategies in cooperation with decision-making entities and further relevant stakeholders. Furthermore, the outputs contribute to enhancing capacities of relevant authorities and stakeholders through the creation of platforms for mutual exchange of knowledge/experience.
The outputs will be reached by an assessment of the stakeholders in the selected target areas before including them in the following steps in joint situation analysis and strategy planning.
Apart from developing new strategies/working programs a parallel approach will implement, test and evaluate 3 pilot measures, which were already identified in former cooperation projects as mechanisms needed for (i) enhancing the cooperation between protected areas and stakeholders in their surroundings, (ii) increasing transnational cooperation and exchange between WH protected areas and (iii) anchoring the WH component parts by the creation of regional added value. The regional strategies developed in 4 target areas and the evaluation results of 3 pilot actions will be the basis for the development of overall strategies for other protected areas of the WH site.
Work Package T2
Creation of sustainable model for buffer zone management around World Heritage Beech forests
This work package is targeting the buffer zones of PAs comprising WH component parts as border areas with high potential for conflicts between different interest groups but also as areas for regional outreach of the PAs in terms of involving stakeholders in their management, transferring knowledge regarding natural heritage and promoting sustainable development in the region.
The outputs comprise strategies for protected areas and concerned public authorities for active stakeholder participation in buffer zone management, for conflict solution, visitor information and WH communication as well as sustainable forest management, which all contribute to achieving the project specific objectives in terms of mobilisation and active integration of concerned actors in buffer zone managment and regarding capacity building among local stakeholders and public authorities.
Several activities will be implemented to achieve these outputs including praticipatory risk assessments of selected buffer zones of WH component parts in Poloniny NP (SK), Snežnik-Ždrocle and Krokar (SI), which will include joint strategic planning fo increased stakeholder involvement in buffer zone management and for conflict solutions. Furthermore, strategies for visitor management and concepts for WH knowledge transfer as well as for making the forest experience for visitors and local identification with the WH forest come alive are jointly developed by all partners and partly implemented as pilot activities and evaluated in Kalkalpen NP (AT).
In the framework of another activity all PPs and concerned APs will cooperate on the joint development of a guideline for sustainable beech forest management practices in buffer zones of protected areas comprising WH component parts, which will be based on a jointly conducted assessment of existing forestry practices in the buffer zones of the target areas. The guidelines will be used in a pilot training action for foresters from public and private forestry.
Work Package T3
Development of an exemplary European Beech Forest Quality Standard and Certification System
Within this work package an exemplary European Beech Forest Quality Standard and Certification System will be developed that is applicable also to further component parts of the WH site and valuable beech forest areas in Europe. The elaboration of the Quality Standard and Certification System includes as outputs:
- A study on available management quality standards in conservation
- A study on potentials and requirements for an improved management quality in the surrounding of the participating protected areas
- A handbook including criteria and indicators for evaluating the conservation status and management quality of beech forest areas.
Furthermore the handbook is meant to support the fulfillment of the reporting requirements of the WH site to UNESCO. By the development of this joint Quality Standard and Certification System the project contributes to the specific objectives as it aims at catalyzing a better overall management (including buffer zone management) and its contribution to regional sustainable development by relevant public authorities and stakeholders as well as at reinforcing collaboration and exchange across sites and regions. Furthermore the evaluation and certification system is aiming at motivating public authorities and stakeholders for active participation in improving the management quality of the beech forests.
These objectives will be reached by the involvement of all partners in analysing actually available and applied management quality standards in the conservation sector, interviews in the target areas about potentials and requirements for good management quality as well as workshops with experts related to the European Beech Forest Network for comparing actual monitoring systems and elaborating transparent and comparable criteria and indicators applicable to all component parts of the WH site and further valuable beech forest areas in Europe.