Within the EUROPARC Conference framework, a 4 hours workshop was organised on the topic of socio-economic development promotion in Protected Areas in order to retain young people in rural areas.

In this workshop, the IMPACT project was featured. Many good practices issued from the project were shared with the participants. 

The main conclusions and inputs from the workshop were :

  • Depopulation of rural areas current is a trend all over Europe– Young people are migrating to urban areas
  • Inverted demographic pyramids that will become a big problem in few years if trend is not reverted
  • Outdoor industry is an area of opportunities for jobs for young people  
  • News ways of working such as co-working , home-based works – provided there are good Internet connection are opportunities for youth employability in rural areas
  • In certain rural regions, PAs participate in LAGs (Local Action Groups) from LEADER program to promote measures for retaining young people in rural areas 
  • PAs are working positively with agencies and regional administrations in neighbouring areas to promote positive changes 
  • In Scotland, the Cairngorms national park authority has developed an Economic Strategy to promote socio-economic activities to take place in the park and has stablished numerous business partnerships and promotes business networking. There has been an effort of preparing nice visual communication tools to reach local population. Also a Park brand has been developed that it is allowed to be used by business under certain criteria.     
  • Regarding youth, Cairngorms  has programs of apprentice and internships to give young people first opportunity of work. They also provide counselling on how to prepare a good CV and application candidature.
  • In UK, the John Muir Trust - a conservation charity dedicated to protecting and enhancing wild places- has educational programs developed outdoors and using wild places to help young people to build soft skills (communication, team -working, decision-making, etc.) , to recognise achievement, and real life tangible experiences - for reference in personal statements, applications and interviews – which are invaluable for moving towards employment 
  • In Catalonia good example of Odisseu project (financed by LEADER program) to promote young people that left rural areas to study in the city to come back and work in the rural area where they are originally from. This project is about putting in contact business located in rural areas looking for workers and young people from that areas conducting studies in university.  

In general, it was concluded that: 

  • Depopulation is a huge problem and general trend and therefore it is needed cross-sectorial actions from different public departments, such as Agriculture, Youth, Education, etc. to cooperate to tackle together the problem of retaining young people in rural (protected) areas. 
  • Good population data at appropriate scale and distribution are needed to assist PAs to play a role