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Our History

40 Years Working for Nature is not only about looking back to what EUROPARC has undertaken and learned, it is about looking to the future. Building on the experience gained, EUROPARC seeks to create a legacy, to renew the organisation and to ensure it remains relevant to European issues. Most importantly, it remains to serve its members, who manage all aspects of European protected areas through international cooperation.

You can now download our most recent and popular publication, “People, Passion, Protected Areas, 40 Years Working for Nature” by clicking on the pdf file at the right of the page.


In 2013, the EUROPARC Federation is celebrating it´s 40th anniversary with the theme "40 years Working for Nature".
EUROPARC Federation, known as the "Federation of Nature and National Parks of Europe", was founded in 1973 with the aim to help protected areas to fulfill their role as preservers of the natural beauty of Europe.

With its work closely linked to the European Commission - Environment, the LIFE and Natura 2000 programmes, EUROPARC serves its members as an umbrella organization connecting protected areas across the European continent. In order to preserve the variety of protected areas, EUROPARC encourages cooperation and exchange between protected areas´ managers and staff, and the promotion of their work.

40 years ago, the Federation was founded in Basel (CH). The first EUROPARC headquarters was opened in Grafenau (DE) in 1986, while today the international team is present in two countries: The headquarters is located in Regensburg (DE) and an we have an office in Brussels, administrative capital of the European Union.

Many projects and programmes have been implemented and completed since EUROPARC started. The Federation has significantly contributed to enhance public awareness about protected areas and influenced European nature conservation policies. You will find more detailed information about our activities in the section 'what we do'.

The Federation is currently boasting some 400 members in 35 countries and recognised around the world as a professional network of European protected areas. See the map of EUROPARC's members.

It is a long history - and a long story... To choose all the key dates of the Federation is almost an impossible task, but we have searched our archives and chose the most compelling moments and happenings which are presented below.



History line of the EUROPARC Federation


1973, 12th of May Foundation of the EUROPARC Federation in Saarbrücken (DE)

Shortly after it´s foundation work on a European level starts. EUROPARC is among the bodies represented
at the first European Ministerial Conference on the Environment staged by the Council of Europe

1974 First General Assembly in Goslar/Germany: first statutes, Presidium under Alfred Toepfer,
Standing Committee

1975 Second General Assembly in Passau/Germany;
EUROPARC represented at IUCN General Assembly in Kinshasa

1975 (autumn) Re-publication of the Journal „Nature and National Parks“ as European Bulletin

1976 Third General Assembly in Plitvice/Yugoslavia

1976 September EUROPARC President awarded with the Environment Medal at the annual meeting of German Nature Parks held in the Upper Bavarian Forest Nature Park

1977 General Assembly in Lake District National Park/England; EUROPARC joins the IUCN as a member; EUROPARC President awarded with the C.B.E. by Queen Elizabeth II

1979 Federation’s first folder produced, serving as „corporate ID“ for external publicity;
EUROPARC Federation gains observer status at the European Council

1980 Federation splits during the 7th General Assembly in Cicero/Italy; new Statues approved

1980 Elections of Board members of the Federation; new president is former IUCN president Dr D.J. Kuenen
Alfred Toepfer as Honorary President for life time

1982 General Assembly in Ramsau/BGL/Germany

1983 10 years of EUROPARC
Third National Park in Germany is designated: Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer

1983 International Park Seminar (EUROPARC Federation, Hamburg F.V.S. Foundation, and National Parks Association (Washington D.C.)

1984 Francois Giacobbi president

1986 Headquarters in Grafenau; editorial of bulletin moves from Belgium to Grafenau;
first full time employee is Ms Eva Pongratz

1987 Egide Moreau president (died 2004)

1988 Partnership agreements with IUCN, WCMC and FNNPE (Bulletin 27, 29)

1990 First Alfred Toepfer Medal award for Theo Burrell (at GA in Manzanares / Spain)

1991 In Germany, protected area representatives found the FÖNAD, first national section of FNNPE (Bulletin 29, 26)

1992 EUROPARC publishes common policy statement on the protection of natural development of ecosystems, as a concept for European protected areas, at GA in Helsinki (FI)
Foundation of the Italian Section (Bulletin 114, 14)

1993 Foundation of the Spanish Section
Publication of “Loving them to Death”
Launch of the partnership and exchange programme (special Bulletin 137) that lasts until 1998

1995 Draft of a “Charter for sustainable tourism”, probably as a consequence of “Loving them to death?”, Paris

1996 Dr. Hans Bibelriether president

1998 Seat of the Federation is moved to Germany, registration under German legislation

1999 Dr. Patrizia Rossi president
First European Day of Parks on May 24: more than 100 organisations from 18 European countries organize events (Bul. 141, 3).

In order to ensure harmony in the way protected areas are classified internationally, a first step has been made with the publication of Guidelines for Protected Area Management Categories – Interpretation and Application in Europe, EUROPARC, Grafenau, Germany.

2000  Final version of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas

2001  EUROPARC Consulting GmbH is founded

2002 Michael Starrett president
Junior Ranger Programme launched (Bul. 150, 40)

2003 Foundation of EUROPARC Nordic-Baltic (Bul. 152, 45)
Start of the „Transboundary Parks – Following Nature´s Design” Programme

2005 Erika Stanciu president

2008 June: Carol Ritchie starts as director of EUROPARC Federation
First eNewsletter published
Launch of

2009 EUROPARC Consulting Limited, owned by EUROPARC Consulting GmbH, is founded

2010 Headquarters moves to Regensburg (DE)

2011 Thomas Hansson president
EUROPARC Federation joins Facebook

2012 Strategy paper “Networking for Nature” in collaboration with Eurosite to manifest the joining of the two organizations

2013 “40 years Working for Nature” anniversary of EUROPARC Federation with several events and publications; EUROPARC Annual Conference in Hungary (October 9-13, 2013)

The EUROPARC Federation website is supported by: European UnionAlfred Toepfer StiftungTourism_Tomorrow_2015

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