ConnectGREEN Restoring and managing ecological corridors in mountains as the green infrastructure in the Danube basin

ConnectGREEN International Conference

The Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention, the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (CNPA) Steering Committee, WWF, CEEweb, and Eurac Research kindly invite you to the International Conference “Protected Areas - Cornerstones of Ecological Connectivity in the Carpathians and Beyond” that will take place on

28-30 September 2021 in Visegrád, Hungary and online.

The event will be organised on-site in combination with online interactive tools and broadcasting for those who cannot travel to the location due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Conference is free of charge.

PLEASE REGISTER HERE BY 15 September 2021!

What does the conference offer?

  • To learn about recent developments in the Carpathians & to raise awareness on the need for cross-sectoral approaches for the identification, conservation and restoration of ecological connectivity in the Carpathians and beyond, 
  • To serve the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas members to get together, exchange knowledge and experience, and hear about new methods and approaches to improve and safeguard ecological connectivity,
  • To offer space for cross-sectoral discussions, as improvement of ecological connectivity needs more – spatial planning, agriculture, forestry, transport, etc.
  • To foster collaboration between projects dealing with ecological connectivity.



During the entire conference, a poster exhibition will be set up. You are welcome to bring or send in your poster on your work related to ecological corridors, large carnivores and/or protected areas.


13:00-15:00 Arrival, registration & welcome coffee

Moderator of the day: Péter OLAJOS (Delegate in the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC))

15:00-16:00 Welcome session

  • Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture
  • Carpathian Convention (Harald EGERER, UNEP Vienna Programme Office , Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention) 
  • Carpathian Network of Protected Areas Steering Committee (Mircea VERGHELEȚ, Chair)
  • WWF Central and Eastern Europe (Andreas BECKMANN, TBC)
  • Eurac Research (Isidoro DE BORTOLI, Project Lead Centralparks)

16:30-18:00 Keynote speeches & moderated discussion

  • Ecological connectivity, role of parks as core areas and areas between these, overview in Europe including policy - Stefan LEINER, European Commission DG ENVIRONMENT (TBC)
  • Wildlife Connect Initiative - Wendy ELLIOT, WWF International
  • IUCN Guidelines on Connectivity Conservation -  Gary TABOR - Centre for Large Landscape Conservation/ IUCN Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group (TBC)
  • Spatial planning and the need for cooperation. Are planning systems ready to integrate ecological connectivity? - European Commission DG REGIO (TBC)
  • Message by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (TBC).

19:00 – 21:00 Gala Dinner hosted by the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture

Launch of “Voices of the Youth” – the video compilation based on the ConnectGREEN video contest.



8:30-13:00 Workshops including a coffee break

Workshop 1 Identification of ecological corridors – the ConnectGREEN Methodology

Moderation: Cristian-Remus PAPP, WWF Romania

In this workshop, you will hear about the ConnectGREEN “Methodology for Identification of Ecological Corridors in the Carpathian Countries by Using Large Carnivores as Umbrella Species”, related project activities and further developments followed by a moderated discussion.


  • The Methodology – presentation by Zuzana OKANIKOVÁ, State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic & Martin STRNAD, Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic
  • The ConnectGreen Habitat Suitability Model – presentation by Kristyna VLKOVÁ & Dusan ROMPORTL, Silva Tarouca Research Institute for Landscape and Ornamental Gardening, Czech Republic
  • From gaps to success stories related to ecological connectivity identification and protection, results of the ConnectGreen project – presentation by Filepné Dr. KOVÁCS Krisztina, Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences (co-author Dr. István VALÁNSZKI,  Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences)
  • Follow up project SaveGREEN: modelling of ecological corridors & GIS application for monitoring structural and functional connectivity – presentation by Christoph PLUTZAR, Environment Agency Austria

Workshop 2 Integration of ecological corridors into spatial planning – how to overcome conflicts between connectivity conservation and spatial planning (tools and best practice)

Moderation: Dr. István VALÁNSZKI, Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences

In this workshop, you will learn about the technical tools that have been developed during the implementation of ConnectGREEN. These comprise the Guidelines on reducing conflicts in corridor areas, the internet based platform ‘Carpathian Countries Integrated Biodiversity Information System’ (CCIBIS) including the Decision Support Tool for economic project development, the e-learning platform for students and professionals alike with units on ecological connectivity and spatial planning, and best practice examples. The workshop will include a lively moderated discussion.


  • Methodology for Identification of Ecological Corridors in the Carpathian Countries by Using Large Carnivores as Umbrella Species (short version) - Václav HLAVÁČ, Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic
  • Guidelines on reducing conflicts in corridor areas – presentation by Milan HUSÀR, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava - SPECTRA Centre of Excellence of EU
  • Carpathian Countries Integrated Biodiversity Information System (CCIBIS) including the Decision Support Tool and e-learning platform presentation by Milan HUSÁR, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava - SPECTRA Centre of Excellence of EU (co-authors: Vladimir ONDREJICKA, SPECTRA & Dr. Gabriella NAGY, CEEweb, Hungary)
  • The Hungarian Spatial Planning System, Green Infrastructure & Ecological Service & Landscape Character Mapping (Strategic Assessments supporting the long term conservation of natural values of community interest as well as the national implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 - KEHOP-4.3.0-VEKOP-15-2016-00001) - Dr. László KOLLÀNYI (Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences), Dr. TÖRÖK Katalin (Ökológiai Kutatóközpont), CSŐSZI Mónika (Lechner Tudásközpont),
  • Integration of the ConnectGREEN results to support ecological connectivity in spatial planning documents in Slovakia - Rastislav STANÍK, Slovak Environment Agency

Workshop 3 Restoration of natural habitat connectivity: different EU projects’ approaches to combine synergies and potential cooperation opportunities.

Moderation: Isidoro DE BORTOLI (Eurac Research, Italy)

During the workshop, we will discuss important achievements of specific European projects developed in different geographical areas but with the same aim. You will have the chance to hear about the experiences of the projects “D2C - Dare to connect”, “AlpBioNet2030”, “Dinalpconnect”, and “Centralparks”,  in the light of the ConnectGREEN main results. The workshop will focus on potential synergies and connections, also analysing promising gaps and divergences, and ways to address them through strong transnational cooperation on the topic of connectivity.


  • Interreg Danube Transnational Project “Dare 2 Connect”, Stefan Alexander FUCHS, University of Vienna, Austria
  • Interreg Adriatic-Ionian Project DINALPCONNECT: Filippo FAVILLI, Eurac Research, Italy
  • Interreg Central Europe Project Centralparks: Ján KADLEČÍK, State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic
  • Interreg Alpine Space “AlpBioNET”: (TBC) 
  • EU SEE Transnational Cooperation Programme Project “BioREGIO – Carpathians”: Mircea VERGHELEȚ, Piatra Craiului National Park Administration, Romania

Workshop 4 Mainstreaming ecological connectivity into policy – national roadmaps & recommendations for the improvement of the EIA/SEA Directive

Moderation: Gabriella NAGY, CEEweb for Biodiversity, Hungary

The workshop aims at providing input to the feasibility check of the official Fitness Check of EIA Directive from different countries’ perspectives, compiling recommendations towards decision makers mainstreaming ecological connectivity into EIA processes using the setting of a world café.


National roadmaps

  • Serbia: Dr. Marina NENKOVIĆ-RIZNIĆ, Institute of Architecture and Urban & Spatial Planning of Serbia
  • Slovakia: Rastislav STANÍK, Slovak Environment Agency
  • Romania: Oana POPESCU, National Institute for Research and Development in Constructions, Urban Planning und Sustainable Spatial Development, Romania
  • Hungary: Dr. András WEIPERTH, Hungarian University for Agriculture and Life Sciences

ConnectGREEN’s engagement in the EU EIA feasibility check with a focus on ecological corridors - Dr. Szilvia MÉSZÁROS, ÖKO Zrt.

13:00-14:00 Buffet lunch

14:00-16:30 A new age for the CNPA network: CNPA Conference by Centralparks

Moderation: Mircea VERGHELEȚ, Chair of the CNPA Steering Committee

The event will focus on the revitalization process of the CNPA network, launched by the Centralparks Project Partnership in strong synergy with the ConnectGREEN and the SaveGREEN projects, and with fundamental support of the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention. The official CNPA Steering Group members will be invited to evaluate the ongoing progress of the work dedicated to the network. A protected area representative from each Carpathian country will share with the audience the main issues, good practices, threats and future challenges from her/his national perspective. The event will offer a platform for discussions in order to foster collaboration and future cooperation among the managers of the Carpathian protected areas.

In parallel, for the participants not attending the CNPA Conference, a coffee corner for networking will be offered displaying the videos and posters on project results.

17:00-18:30 Panel discussion “Protected Areas as Europe’s Ecological backbone - Exchange between the Networks of Protected Areas”

Moderation: Harald Egerer, UNEP Vienna Programme Office - Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention (TBC)

Mountain regions, considering their trans-boundary character, require comprehensive, effectively managed and well-coordinated networks of protected areas that are fit for addressing the environmental challenges at the regional scale. This session brings together networks of protected areas from the main mountain regions of Europe, including the Alps, the Carpathians, the Dinaric Alps and the Pyrenees, as well as the Danube basin, and shall allow for exchange on functioning models and policies established within the existing networks. The panel discussion will highlight best experiences and challenges that the networks are facing in times of biodiversity and climate change crisis. This exchange aims at supporting a closer cooperation between the networks and shall facilitate joint activities for protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecological connectivity in the mountain regions of Europe in the future. A Memorandum of Cooperation between ALPARC, Danubeparks and CNPA will serve as an example of good practice for closer cooperation between the networks. 


Representatives of the protected area networks, ALPARC, CNPA, Danubeparks, Park Dinarides, and the protected area network in the Pyrenees.

19:00 Networking dinner



Moderator of the day:  Csaba Mezei, CEEweb for Biodiversity

9:00-9:40 Workshops wrap-up

Workshop moderators report to the plenum the main content of their discussions.

9:40-11:00 ConnectGREEN Final Conference


  • Overall presentation of results & outputs including a moderated Q&A session (Cristian-Remus PAPP, Lead Partner WWF-RO)
  • Panel discussion on lessons learnt, experiences made, recommendations for follow up activities and policy work


  • Work Package 3 “Knowledge source base”: State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic
  • Work Package 4 “Innovative pilot sites”: Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic
  • Work Package 5 “Policy and networks”: Dr. Gabriella NAGY, CEEweb for Biodiversity, Hungary
  • Work Package 6 “Enhancing cross-sectoral cooperation at regional Carpathian level and beyond”[1]  Marina ,
  • Work Package “Communication”: Hildegard MEYER, WWF Central and Eastern Europe, Austria
  • Work Package “Management” (harmonisation across work packages and maximisation of results): Cristian-Remus Papp, WWF Romania
  • Presentation of Conference Declaration addressing higher level stakeholders & agreement with participants (Declaration will be sent in the beginning of September for feedback)

11:00-11:15 Official closing of the Conference by Cristian-Remus PAPP, Project Coordinator, WWF Romania & Harald EGERER, UNEP Vienna Office, Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention

11:15-11:30 Coffee break

11:30-19:00 “Walk shops”

Walk shop 1 ”River adventure on River Ipoly”

Canoeing tour on the Ipoly River, discussing the topic of blue and green infrastructure impact on large carnivores’ moving habit, rivers are barriers or corridors, how to deal with them in ecological corridor system planning

Walk shop 1 only takes place in appropriate weather conditions.

  • Precondition: you should be able to swim.
  • Dress code: light summer clothes, swimsuit
  • Equipment: towel, waterproof small bag for personal belongings, sun protection
  • Difficulty: medium

Walk shop 2 “Walking adventure to Pilis Mountain”

Walking tour up to the top of Pilis Mountain, discussing the topic of forestry and wildlife management impact on ecological corridors.

Walk shop 2 only takes place in appropriate weather conditions.

  • Equipment: mountain boots, sun protection
  • Difficulty: medium/easy

Walk shop 3 “Training adventure up to Nógrád Fortres”

Traveling by train to Nográd Fortress in the beautiful Valley of Ipoly River, with discussion on the land-use change and impact of railway infrastructure on ecological corridors.

This Walk shop takes place in appropriate weather conditions..

  • Dress code: city
  • Difficulty: easy

19:00 Simple dinner / departure


Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)