Council of Europe
The European Diploma
of Protected Areas
Council of Europe:
The European Diploma of Protected Areas
|The European Diploma of Protected Areas was created in 1965 and is awarded to protected natural or semi-natural areas of exceptional European interest from the point of view of conservation of biological, geological or landscape diversity that have an appropriate protection status.
Over 60 areas in 23 states have received so far this prestigious award, which recognizes both the European interest and the quality of its management. The Diploma is awarded for a five-year period and is renewable. Usually there are conditions or recommendations attached to its award, so it encourages managers and authorities to keep up a high level of protection and promotes an ecologically minded management. The fact that it is only awarded for five years is one of its main peculiarities, as the possibility of its non-renewal helps avoid decisions that may threat the ecological values of the protected area. The award procedure is complex and rigorous and includes an on-the-spot expert assessment and annual reports.
The World Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africas Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our worlds heritage.
What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the "Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage", adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
UNESCO Program on Man and the Biosphere (MAB) develops the basis, within the natural and the social sciences, for the sustainable use and conservation of biological diversity, and for the improvement of the relationship between people and their environment globally.
The MAB Programme encourages interdisciplinary research, demonstration and training in natural resource management. MAB contributes thus not only to better understanding of the environment, including global change, but to greater involvement
of science and scientists in policy development concerning the wise use of biological diversity.
A European Geopark is a territory which includes a particular geological heritage and a sustainable territorial development strategy supported by a European program to promote development. A European Geopark comprises a certain number of geological sites of particular importance in terms of their scientific quality, rarity, aesthetic appeal or educational value. The majority of sites present on the territory of a European Geopark are part of the geological heritage, but their interest may also be archaeological, ecological, historical, or cultural.
Thanks to the agreement with UNESCO (Earth Science Division) in April 2001, the network is now under the patronage of the prestigious International Organization. The network has registered and owns the "European Geopark" logo recognized by all the European Community Countries.
The European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (ECST) is a practical management tool that enables protected areas to develop tourism sustainably. The core element of the Charter is working in partnership with all relevant stakeholders to develop a common sustainable tourism strategy and an action plan on the basis of a thorough situation analysis. The aim of all Charter projects and activities is the protection of the natural and cultural heritage and the continuous improvement of tourism in the protected area in terms of environment, local population, and businesses, as well as visitors. The European Charter emanated from a report by the EUROPARC Federation in 1993 called "Loving Them to Death? Sustainable Tourism in Europe's Nature and National Parks", and reflects the world's and European priorities expressed in the recommendations of Agenda 21, adopted during the Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992 and by the 6th Community program of actions for sustainable development. The Charter was also one of the priorities defined in the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) action program for protected areas in Europe, "Parks for Life" (1994). The European Charter directly addresses a number of key principles elaborated in the International Guidelines for Sustainable Tourism developed under the "Convention on Biological Diversity" providing a practical tool for their implementation in the protected areas at a local level. The ECST is coordinated by the EUROPARC Federation, managing the official recognition procedure to issue the Certificate of the Charter and coordinating the network of certified areas. The Certificate can be renovated every 5 years. For further information: http://www.parks.it/federparchi/cets.html