A. Project management and monitoring of project progress
Overall co-ordination and management of the project.
The project is coordinated by WWF Hungary and implemented by the following 7 Hungarian organisations as partners:
- Bükki National Park Directorate
- Duna-Ipoly National Park Directorate
- Kiskunság National Park Directorate
- Europa Median Non-Profit Ltd.
- Hungarian Forestry Association
- National Association of Private Forest Owners and Forest Managers
- Pilisi Parkerdő Zrt.
The project team is composed of high guality professionals with significant expertise int he fiel of project management, forestry and nature conservation, as well as communication and training.
For the successful execution of the project a Steering Committe is established with the involvement of the stakeholder groups concerned.
The aim of Monitoring of the project progress action is to measure and document the effectiveness and the progress of the project actions compared to the initial situation.
The aim of Monitoring of the project progress action is to measure and document the effectiveness and the progress of the project actions compared to the initial situation.
For the transparent and effective monitoring process this task is separated from the project management and led by the Europa Media Non-Profit Ltd. The monitoring of the project progress will be achieved through the supervision of the tasks and milestones, the management of the risks where required. The responsible partner will produce an action plan for the monitoring of the project progress that will include the monitoring tools, the indicators, and the source of the information.
According to the Common Provisions, the national law, and the accounting regulations an independent accounting auditor will review the financial statements. The independent auditor, contracted by the coordinating beneficiary will prepare an audit report at the end of the project. The report will be forwarded to the European Comission too, together with a final report of expenses and income.
To improve the management of Natura 2000 forests, intensive and interactive communication with forest managers is necessary. To adapt proved results from other projects on the best practices of communication and stakeholder involvement we will establish contact and have experience exchange with other LIFE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION and other, non-LIFE projects.
We encourage active exchange of information in order to profit from the experience of similar projects. We will have the opportunity to use and spread the conclusions and best practices, also the lessons learnt during the project. These activities start at the preliminary phase of the project and will continue until the end. Through networking activities we will present the experiences to other relevant projects and organisations concerned within the European Union.
By the end of the project, an After-Life Communication Plan will have been prepared that will summarise the activities after the end. This will include the conclusions and the results of the project activities, the results of the final survey made in action E.1, and the knowledge acquired in action A.4. The preparation of the Plan will be led by a WWF communication employee, but all partners’ expert will participate, and the Steering Committee will also contribute with advices and opinions. The acceptance of the communication plan is important not only for the project partners, but for the stakeholders delegating members to the Steering Committee and for decision makers.
B. Preparatory actions
In this action an study will be prepared that will contain the general analysis of the stakeholder groups, the analysis of the target groups form the communication point of view, and a communication plan about how to reach the target groups effectively. The overall aim of the study is to supplement our present knowledge about the stakeholders and target groups of the project, in order to be able to approach them and involve them effectively in the implementation. We are committed to collect first-hand information directly from the stakeholders about the lack of their knowledge, the information they need, as well as the channels they use to inform about this issue, and the most accepted ways of knowledge transfer.
The analysis will start with the identification and the mapping of the relevant stakeholders of the project. The stakeholders are all the actors who can influence, or who are affected by the forest management practice, who bear the consequences of the national implementation of the Natura 2000 regulations, but also can benefit from the advantages of this system. The stakeholders are: representatives of the government and the authorities, local decision makers, organization who are independent from the government, non-profit organizations, interest- and lobby-groups, local and international communities.
During the analysis we will identify in each stakeholder group the interest of the stakeholders, the possible conflicts between them, their willingness to be involved, and capacity building needs of their involvement. The consortium partners are committed to respond immediately to all views and needs of the stakeholders at any stage of the project implementation.
The realisation of the Natura 2000 objectives and agreements regarding the conservation of the forests are often hindered by outside factors beyond professional arguments and standpoints, or management obligations. These difficulties can be present on different levels in case of different Natura 2000 designated species and habitats. The economic circumstances mean a significant pressure on forest managers either in the Great Hungarian Plain and in the middle-mountains, although to a different extent because of the different features of the habitats. The compensation scheme plays an important role in the forming of the economic circumstances. For a successful dialogue with the managers, reliable information is necessary on the current situation of the economic environment; that is why we plan to prepare a study in this action, which investigates the economic environment from the point of view of measures supporting the Natura 2000 objectives. The analysis talks about the economic features of Natura 2000 forest management activities and environmental forest management methods based on reports, publicly available management data, personal interviews, and international comparisons. We examine the following topics – among others – in the analysis: review of different types of revenue in forests, state forest managers’ financial duties, the assessment of market constraints and opportunities, and the conflict between welfare functions and economy.
The purpose of the action is the collection of existing materials, and the compilation of a study based on them about the impact of different operational methods and management practices on different habitats and forest species.
The preliminary study summarises the impact of common forest management methods on the sites of community importance and other highly important sites’ forest habitats’ naturalness, with special consideration to the tree species composition and the structure of the forests. It is important to emphasise that during the execution of this action we do not plan to start new research, but to collect and systematically organise the existing literature on behalf of the communication purposes aimed at the protection of forest habitats.
We expect to discover yet unclear issues in the connection between forest managements and the forests’ biodiversity; subthemes, on which no relevant information is available. The revealed gaps will be communicated to the scientific community during this Action and in B4 and C1 Actions providing an input to shape future research agendas.
One of the most important results of the project will be the compilation of a handbook, which will serve as a standard work for all specialists in the Natura 2000 network. The aim is to publish a comprehensive volume for the benefit of all specialists in the Natura 2000 network: property managers, forestry and environmental protection authorities, specialists working for the ministries, employees of educational and research institutes, and political decision makers in the field. Its purpose is the compilation of comprehensive knowledge on all the designated habitats and the designated forest species based on existing materials: the chapters will contain descriptions, distribution maps, management practices, advice on nature conservation practices, photos, statistics, and evaluating tables.
We will prepare a short, colorful but sufficiently detailed, up-to-date guidance for foresters and forestry decision makers based on the studies completed under actions B2 and B3. The chapters of the guidance will include at least the followings:
- Objectives of the Natura 2000 network and Hungarian responsibles of implementation
- Characteristics of Natura 2000 forest species and habitats; their needs, illustrated with photos
- Short overview of the recommended close-to-nature forest management practices
- Short overview of other management modifications that contribute to maintaining biodiversity in forests, e.g. dead wood retention, maintaining shrub layer, mixed native species composition, retaining old and hollow trees, larger retention tree groups etc
- Overview of the current financial support system
- Sources of further information, help for foresters
C. Communication actions / awareness raising campaigns
The professional approach of nature conservation experts, who are assessing and evaluating forest management plans, differs widely. In the same time, national park directorates should carry out best practice nature conservation management on Natura 2000 forest sites, which belong to their property management. For this reason, it is very important that nature conservationists managing Natura 2000 forest sites, posses relevant ecological and conservation biological knowledge and have a professional forum to discuss practical questions.
Thefore the objective of this action is to discuss the various professional opinions related to nature conservation management, acceptable economic activities and necessary restrictions carried out in Natura 2000 forest habitats. In addition, this action is aiming to establish a forum for nature conservationists for elaborating joint positions and unifying their professional standpoints within the nature conservation sector.
Target groups of the Action: Nature conservation managers, who work for national parks and nature conservation authorities, and experts from research institutions.
In order to disseminate all available information and knowledge and to avoid any regional gaps, several workshops are planned with the involvement of all nature conservation authorities and national park directorates together with researchers of this field.
For each workshop 2 representatives from each of the altogether 20 relevant governmental bodies and several experts will be invited, a total of app. 50 participants per workshops.
Altogether 4 workshops will be held. The venues of the 4 wokshops and the special focus of each will be:
Budapest – discussing the general issues
Eger – discussing mountain forest issues
Pécs – discussing floodplain forest issues
Kecskemét – discussing lowland forest issues
The purpose of this Action is to prepare a Natura 2000 Forest Planning Toolkit that presents the uniform principles discussed with stakeholder-groups, and to provide an opportunity to put the forest planning principles into practice. The Toolkit will be based on the background materials prepared in B3 Action and the handbook of B4 Action.
Designated habitats and species will be mentioned briefly in the Toolkit. There will be an emphasis on the description of legally sound forest management methods and complementary measures connected to the different species and habitats. The work material will be compiled by a work group of forest planners working for forestry authorities, experts of national parks, and contracted third-party specialists. For the sake of wide acceptance and applicability, the suggestions to be included in the planning toolkit will be discussed with the interest group of forest managers, and nature conservation and natural sciences experts.
Getting to know the problems experienced in the fields by licensed forest engineers and forest managers, channelling their professional experiences into the negotiations concerning obligations arising from Natura 2000 objectives and elaborating recommendations for nature conservation are all of outstanding importance. There is also a growing need for the better understanding of the background of nature conservation requirements. The cooperation of various stakeholders with different views and professional background could be fostered by better knowing of each others’ approach, interest, professional constraints and opportunities.
To reach this aim, a series of professional round-table meetings will be organized with the involvement of nature conservationists and foresters. The topics will be the general objectives of Natura 2000 regarding forests, and discussing different views of Natura 2000 forest planning and management.
Target groups: conservation managers, professionals of the Forest Authority, professionals of state forest companies.
The purpose of the information days is to discuss the Natura 2000 objectives and the related restrictions with the forest managers, based on the experiences since 2004. Together with the concerned private forest managers we will summarize the experiences of the period since the designation of the Natura 2000 network. We will focus on issues that influence everyday work of foresters managing Natura 2000 sites, like consequences of different forest management practices in terms of income based on the study prepared in B2 Action. We also will provide information on the ecological background of the Natura 2000 goals and the proposed management measures.
The aim is that forest managers will have better understanding and higher awareness of Natura 2000 requirements and benefits in order to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts int he future. The information days will contribute to give the guidance on how to make compatible forest exploitation with the conservation of habitats and species, which results higher nature conservation value in Natura 2000 forests, parallel with increased satisfaction of forest managers.
We plan to organize 15 Natura 2000 Information Day for forest managers in 15 different locations across the country.
This action is targeting private and state forest managers, licensed forest engineers, teachers and multiplicators. As professors and trainers of educational institutions in forestry and nature conservation have a multiplier role toward the target group they will be also involved into this action. This way we implement a “train the trainer” approach, and multiply the access to the primary target groups.
The goal of this action is to increase the reputation of managers who apply best practices, by recognising and promoting their activity. Furthermore, sharing these experiences with foresters, who manage similar forest types.
We will organise 6 study trips to managers with exemplary practices.
Each study trip will be organized for 30-50 participants, with the guidance of the project partners and the local forest manager.
The Scoping Document and the first stakeholder seminar’s report of the Forest and Natura 2000 Guidance declare that best practices need to be exchanged and communicated. Promoting best practice can be achieved through sharing existing know-how, as there is a lot of best practice experience on forest management in the EU Member States. It is important to build on good experience and practice already implemented by the forest sector, and to use both scientific and traditional knowledge. The coordinating beneficiary and its partners intend to join this initiative, in order to adapt in Hungary the knowledge that is gathered.
The goal of the action is that the best practices that are available in the EU member states are communicated to Hungarian stakeholders. The project will help the implementation of tools and means that are applicable in Hungary. For this sake we will transmit the information to and involve in field trips the following key target groups: conservation managers, licensed forest engineers, forest managers, professionals of the forest authority, teachers and trainers of forestry and conservation education as multipliers.
WWF has an on-going relationship with the decision makers of the forestry and nature conservation sector. Therefore the results of the project can be delivered through formal and informal channels.
Several decision makers will be invited into the Steering Committee of the project as well, this way their views are incorporated into project implementation. Their engagement ensures that project outputs will be relevant for nature conservation and forest policy implementation.
Furthermore, starting from the second semester of the project, we will prepare a summary report (Natura 2000 forest: issues and solutions) every year based on the consultations held with stakeholders, the conclusions and notes of the forums, the experience of the field programs, and the completed survey in the preparation phase. These papers will be delivered to the decision makers at national level and distributed among authorities at regional level as well. Their purpose is to send feedback to the high-level decision makers about the issues on the ground encumbering and conditions supporting the realisation of the Natura 2000 objectives.
The aim of the two-day long international conference is to provide a forum for the European and the Hungarian Natura2000 forest managers, where the stakeholders will share the best practices and the good examples, and the Hungarian site managers will get support for the local implementation. The conference is also one of the main dissemination events of the project, where we will introduce to the stakeholders the results of the project.
Target groups: conservation managers, scientists, forestry professionals, decision makers, professionals from the EU.
The official webpage of Natura 2000 network operates since 2005 under the www.natura.2000.hu domain name. It is maintained by the Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Association within the frame of the Natura 2000 non-governmental working group (MME, Birdlife Hungary). Regarding the network, on the webpage you can find the basic information, designated plot numbers, list of species and habitats, news regarding the preparation of Natura 2000 site management plans.
The purpose of this action on the website is to develop an Information Hub specifically for the owners and managers of Natura 2000 forests so they can orient themselves about the project. We will develop and execute the action with MME as part of the Natura 2000 civilian work group.
In order to bring our messages to the more passive members of our target audience, we are planning the communicate through the online and offline media as well.
During the project we are planning to publish press releases, organize interviews, press field trips and professional trips.
In the common media we are planning to emphasize the European level protection of well known species (e.g. forest predators, birds) and to raise awareness of the Natura 2000 network through this.
D. Training activities
The NÉBIH Forest Authority organises regular further training for the employees of the regional Forest Authorities, responsible for the elaboration of regional forest plans, the involvement of the stakeholders, and execution of the Natura 2000 appropriate assessment screening phase. The authority further trainings are organized yearly, and consider all forest planning regions. The further training is covering the update of the legislative background, administrative procedures, technical information regarding actual issues on forest administration, and it also functional as a coordination forum of the territorial authorities.
The purpose of this Action is to develop a new, additional module on the forest habitats and species of community interest and the accepted management practices in Natura 2000 forests. After the development and testing of the new module we would like to have it incorporated into the forest authority further training plan. The additional training module will assure that the authority professionals who perform the planning and controlling tasks of the Natura 2000 get up-to-date nature conservation knowledge of the topic.
The licensed forest engineers have an important role in the management of Natura 2000 forests. They advise the foresters, provide technical guidance and direct the implementation of forestry measures according to the forest plans. We will draw up a module that aims to improve the knowledge of licensed forest engineers about Natura 2000 programe. The module will be developed by conservation experts, forestry scientists and practicing forest engineers.
Reaching and maintaining favourable status of designating forestry habitats and connected species would be possible through the less widespread method of close-to-nature forest management (selection silviculture system) that provides continuous forest cover. The methodical and practical knowledge on this kind of forestry management, however, is scarce among foresters in Hungary. To overcome this gap we will organize five two-day trainings (for 45 experts each) with practical field trainings. The field trainings will be planned, organised and implemented by Bükki National Park Directorate with the involvement of project partners and the Steering Committee. The target audience of the training are the licence forest enginners also as staff of state forest companies located in the administration area of BNP, as well as eligible licenc forest engineers of private foresters.
The objective of this action is to establish an innovative training tool for the stakeholder groups in the Natura2000 forest management area in order to enhance their soft skills development and to improve their management skills.
In order to cover the identified training needs a web-based training service, called „E-learning platform” will be created and placed on the project website. The platform will provide free, maximum 30 minutes training courses to the stakeholder via E-learning modules.
Private forest owners currently receiving Natura 2000 forest support have to participate in accredited trainings organised by education institutions contracted by National Agricultural Advisory, Educational and Rural Development Institute. This Institute is responsible for organising trainings related to all the compensation payments and grants paid from the EARDF. The content of these trainings is defined by a ministerial decree, but it is possible to add auxiliary content or further develop some chapters.
In this action recommendations will be prepared to improve the training material. We will develop a pilot syllabus for a training module including forest ecology and practical guidance on forest management practices that contributes to the conservation and improvement of the status of habitats.
E. Monitoring of the project impact on the target audiences and on the environmental problem
After the end of the communication activities, it is important to measure, among the target groups, the changes of awareness and knowledge in relation to the targeted nature conservation problems. In this Action we will estimate the impact of the project on the target groups if compared to the data of the initial survey.
A study will be prepared on the change of forest planning and management practice in order to get information of their effects on the field practice. On one hand this study will examine the forest management measures carried out in Hungary since the Natura 2000 designations (last ten years) based on regional forest management plans. On the other hand it will monitor the effects of the project in the focus area of the project (the operational areas of the three national park directorates).
For the purpose of the latter one, comparative analysis will be made at the beginning and the end of the project based on available data on forest management. This analysis will provide an insight to the trends related to forest management and conservation status of forests on Natura 2000 sites. As a result of the project, strengthening of positive tendencies is expected in the project focus area.
The comparative analysis – on the basis of the assessment of forest management plans prepared in the management areas of the partners before the project and during the project – will focus on the following issues:
- changes in the area of appropriate management methods (like ‘no timber production’, ‘selection’ and ‘conversion’ systems) by the end of the project;
- changes in forest naturalness, forest types and species composition during the project life-span;
- other favourable changes in forest management practices that can be detected in forest management plans (i.e. any other requirements included for the sake of habitats and species of Community interest);
F. Communication and dissemination of the project and its results
The aim of the action is to create the visual identity of the project, that will include the design of the communication materials, the project website, and the promotional items for example, pens, folders, data carriers, notepads or other objects to be chosen. The design will contain the Life logo and the Natura2000 images. The templates for the communication and dissemination materials will support the partners if they would like to prepare and publication.
Within this action we will publish and distribute the special edition of the quarterly newsletters of the participating National Park Directorates (DINP, KNP, BNP). This special edition will introduce to the aim of the project; the objectives and the achievements; basic scientific summary; and the introduction of the partners, Natura 2000 network and the LIFE+ fund. These newsletters will be distributed to educational institutions, libraries and environmental education organisations on the contact list of the national park directorates. In addition the newsletters will be disseminated in ‘green’ events and also will be available on the project website.
In this Action we create the website to increase the visibility of the project and disseminate the project results electronically. The project website will be launched at the beginning of the project implementation. The website will be available in Hungarian and also in English.
The Layman’s Report will describe the objectives and the achievements of the project and the experiences and the lessons learned by the project partners. The project Layman’s Report will be distributed at the final event, and it will be sent by post to the main stakeholders, who can reach a non-specialist audience. The report will be also available in PDF format and in English version from the project website.