Klagenfurt – Vilm – Mura-Drava-Regional-Park: Committed to professionalising protected areas management

Thanks a lot for organising the workshop on capacity building. I enjoyed the exchange of information and the inspiring debates, and really hope that we shall carry on working together in various ways”, stated Erika Stanciu, Managing Director of ProPark in Romania. Together with several colleagues from five European countries and representatives of IUCN, Erika attended the three days workshop on “professionalising protected areas management” which was organised by E.C.O. in close cooperation with the German Federal Agency of Nature Conservation at the Island of Vilm in Germany (3-5 June 2013). The participants exchanged information on the existing academic and non-academic training offers for protected area managers in Europe, identified current gaps, and discussed the efficiency of different teaching approaches (e.g. online versus face-to-face trainings). Eduard Muller, WCPA Vice-Chair, Education and Learning, and David Reynolds, IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme, gave several presentations on aspects of the IUCN WCPA Protected Area Capacity Development Programme, the Global Partnership for Professionalizing Protected Area Management, and the World Parks Congress. By drafting the “Vilm Declaration” the workshop participants expressed their will to use synergies and cooperate even closer in the future. The establishment of a EUROPARC Working Group on “Capacity Building in Protected Areas Management” was encouraged. It shall meet for the first time in October 2013 during the EUROPARC Conference in Hungary and develop concrete project ideas. Besides, some recommendations to IUCN’s 6th World Parks Congress, to be held in Sydney in November 2014, have been developed.




Shortly before capacity building for protected area managers was discussed theoretically in Vilm, in Croatia, knowledge exchange took place in practice: The fifth module of the current round of the Klagenfurter MSc Programme ended with a joint excursion to Regional Park Mura Drava. Sinisa Golob, a participant of the programme, is Director of this park. With great enthusiasm he introduced his colleagues to the particularities of the area: a natural riverbed of the Mura with many meanders, backwaters and spectacular floodplain forests, interesting cultural features such as vegetable oil processing facilities and a renovated boat mill, as well as the new information centre of the regional park, a multifunctional building, serving as seat of the administration and visitor centre with information, exhibitions and several activities. The ultimate highlight of the visit was a flight over the floodplain forests, as well as the planting of a friendship-tree within the park. All participants have been perfectly pleased by this particular experience in Croatia. Such excursions are a crucial part of the Klagenfurter MSc Programme as they complete the theoretical knowledge taught in the lectures with practical insights in the daily routine of a park manager.


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All those who have not taken training courses in protected areas management so far, or who want to deepen their knowledge particularly in financing issues, are invited to join the special seminar on „Protected Areas Business Planning & Financing. International Approaches, Best Practices & Future Opportunities” which is organised by E.C.O. and implemented by Dr. Franics Vorhies, who founded and presides the not-for-profit professional network “Earthmind”. Vorhies has more than 20 years of international experience in building biodiversity businesses, designing a new market-based mechanism for biodiversity finance, and giving lectures in financing protected areas or strategic NGO development. The seminar will take place from 8 until 10 September 2013 at the University of Klagenfurt. The charges amount to 970 € (including costs for lecturers, seminar facilities, course materials, travel costs during the seminar, and seminar meals). In case you would like to participate, please contact Daniel Zollner (

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