Around the world, National Parks that enclose inhabited areas are seeking the best balance between environmental protection and the interests of local communities. The Őrség National Park in Hungary is an example. The Park covers a landscape of hills, forests and lakes, including 44 settlements, mostly villages or hamlets whose inhabitants have a strong interest in attracting forms of tourism that can support traditional farming practices.
The Park has adopted a Cultural Ecosystem Services (CES) framework that provides guidelines that can be applied by the Park’s managers as well as by private operators. The overall aim is to decrease tensions between those in charge of ecological conservation and those promoting socio-economic development.
A lot of importance is given to education and to local cultural values. The National Park Authority (NPA) focuses on community development; work with schools and associations; on cultural heritage protection and place identity/place attachment. This extends naturally into the promotion of local produce and of activities of interest to visitors. Sustainable tourism activities and initiatives can be led either by local tourism entrepreneurs or by local cultural groups and associations. They include the running of events; the provision of tourism services; the tracing of tourist routes to give value to the natural and cultural heritage of the region; study programmes and educational activities; and the promotion of local products and produce.
The (CES) framework provides a set of rules and guidelines that all parties can adhere to, and a reference in case of conflict.
Visit the Őrség National Park’s website.