Angewandte Geographie und Umweltplanung

Parks of the Future Workshop 2014

Protected areas across Europe, especially large protected areas such as National Parks, Biosphere Reserves, or Nature Parks, are increasingly addressing a multitude of different aims and tasks. Further than “only” the protection of valuable ecosystems and endangered species protected areas find themselves involved with activities such as agriculture, forestry, tourism, or environmental education. As a result many protected areas today are regarded as multifunctional landscapes which have been interpreted as an obvious change of paradigm in area protection. Against the background of an engaged conceptual discourse, additional aims have been expressed by identifying protected areas as possible test-beds or even models for sustainable development. This applies particularly to Biosphere Reserves since these are regarded as model landscapes for sustainable development by definition. But also other types of protected areas are more and more seen in this perspective. Thus many protected areas have become important actors in addressing major problems and challenges at international and even global scale. According to various scientific studies as well as political declarationsof different provenance the relevance of these challenges cannot be denied at all and adequate action has become more than urgent. Among others, coping with climate change, threats to biodiversity, configuration of energy transition, facing demographic change, to name but a few, are important issues in a wider context of transformation processes our societies are facing today.

Against this background a selected number of researchers across Germany and several other European countries have been invited by the Applied Geography and Environmental Planning Research Group at Oldenburg University and the Jean Monnet Chair currently held by this group for a workshop at the Hanse Institute of Advanced Study in Delmenhorst, Germany in February 2014.The meeting is meant to address the question whether protected areas in Europe are being affected by the problems mentioned above and if they could possibly make contributions in successfully addressing these and how. Participants will be from various institutional and disciplinary backgrounds and are expected to discuss and reflect upon the questions briefly sketched in ways of creative thinking and engaged debate.

The workshop will be structured by groups of themes as listed below and will make use of short thematic inputs by selected participants to stimulate the debate. As soon as the list of participants has been closed, the required input will be negotiated among the researchers involved.

In addition, all participants shortly will be asked to provide a brief summary of their expertise and personal interest in the subject which will be distributed among the group before the workshop meeting.

To ensure structured and efficient debate the workshop will be moderated by Prof. Dr. Dirk Strijker from Groningen University, Netherlands who has been employed in similar functions on several occasions before.

Possible results of the workshop could be agreements upon an anthology of the issues raised during the meeting edited by the organizer (and possibly other participants interested) or a joint attempt to access European funding for further collaboration.