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Protected Natural Areas and Mountain Sports Seminars

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The Spanish Federation of Mountain and Climbing Sports, FEDME, is a State Sports Federation in which are integrated 17 Regional Federations whose territory is an Autonomous Community and 2 corresponding to Autonomous cities. Their relations with public administrations have always channeled to the relevant bodies in sport management both at State and Regional level.

However, the mountaineering is done in the mountains, in  the nature, in a “field”that is not regulated by the sports authorities neither by the environmental, with which there were not a regular and satisfactory relations. In the eighties and nineties of the last century dozens of regulations of natural protected areas where mountaineering are done were approved by environmental managers without been consulted with those who practice mountaineering.

In order to alleviate the lack of dialogue between the different interest involved in the practice of mountaineering in protected areas, FEDME, the Canarian Mountaineering Federation, the Autonomous Government of the Canary Islands and the Mnistry of Environment organized on the Island of Tenerife the I Seminar on Natural Protected Areas and Mountain Sports in December 1999. Representatives of the Autonomous Organization of National Parks, (Ministry of Environment), the Spanish Federation of Mountain and Climbing Federation (leading a representation from 14 Regional Federations), the Civil Guard and Ecologists in Action. With a fundamental target, to open the first channels of dialogue between mountaineers/climbers and environmental managers that non-exist until that time except, precisely, in the Teide National Park in Tenerife.

With all the people involved wished to work and reach a first agreement, the FEDME reflected in paper their vision to focus the discussions of the Seminar and which was addressed from the perspective of mountaineers and climbers, a global reflection on the development of sports activities in Natural Protected areas. After the presentation, the dialogue took five working groups that approved a total of forty-four conclusions. The lines of agreement among mountaineers and environmental managers seemed clear: it was to regulate the practice of mountaineering and not to prohibit, to do it with solid arguments and when previous studies so warranted.

As result of the First Seminar, conversations were initiated to concrete in agreements the conclusions of the Seminar. One of the working lines was on Mountain Huts to became the refuges compatibles with nature conservation. It is estimated that at the same time serving to mountaineers/climbers must be a key element in the conservation and dissemination of the conservation objectives of protected areas. Representatives of mountaineering federations and managers of mountain national parks signed in Cangas de Onis (Asturias)-May 12th , 2001, the Declaration of Picos de Europa on “Mountain Refuges and National Parks”. The “first stone” was placed to promote a new kind of mountain hut for the twenty-first century.

The good results of the Seminar held in Tenerife opened the way for II Seminar on Natural Protected Areas and Mountain Sports, on October, 17 to 19, 2003 held in the University College of Jaca (Aragón), organized by the University Alpine club, the Aragonese Federation Mountaineering, the Autonomous National Park Organization and the Government of Aragon, with the economic support of the Provincial Council of Huesca and  the Spanish Mountain and Climbing Federation. Ninety participants attended on behalf (fifty-fifty) the Regional Mountaineering Federations and managers of Natural Protected Areas from the Regional Communities and National Park Organization. Also attended as guest representatives from Nature Protection services, Mountain civil Guard and Environmental organizations.

The works of this II Seminar was based on previous experience and was organized in two working groups in which, with a previous paper developed by environmental and federation technicians, would be discussed looking for a deal that really was a consensus and commitment between mountaineers/climbers and environmental managers.

In the technical working group on “Terminology in Regulations for Natural Protected Areas” was reach an agreement among mountaineers/climbers and managers of natural protected areas to define the meaning of terms and promote their homogenization of use. The agreement was, among others, on the following terms: Mountain Sports, Mountaineering, Canyoning, Hiking, Marked trails, Approved trails, Classic Climbing, Sport Climbing, Via Ferrata, Mountain Skiing, Mountain Snowboard, Overnight, Camping, Bivouac, night camping, Mountain Hut, Guarded Hut, Hut-Hostel.

In the technical working group “Hiking in Natural Protected Areas” an agreement was reached on the design of the basic network of natural protected areas trails to reconcile the possible corporate identity, approval of paths and signaling regulations, ensuring that restrictions on the use of the trails obey a cause scientifically justified, the look for agreements and other common action mechanisms.

With biannually continuity, on November 5th, 2005, the “III Seminar on Mountain Sports and Natural Protected Areas” was held in the city of Granada. Organized by the Autonomous Organism of National Parks, The Andalusian Government, FEDME and the Andalusian Mountaineering Federation. From the hundred people gathered at the Congress Palace of Granada, 40 were representatives of Mountaineering Federations (national and regional), and 40 were managers of natural protected areas, from both the Autonomous National Parks Organization as the Regional Environmental Authorities. Along with them, administration technicians, university professors and other guests attended the Seminar with very active participation. Again two topics to discuss in separate workgroups and reach common conclusions.

“Climbing in Natural Protected Areas” looks to promote respect for the environment by climbers, while environmental managers admit that regulation must be in accordance with scientific criteria that take into account the real impact of climbing.

“The contribution of mountaineering to sustainable development in natural areas” focuses on the role played by mountaineers in the development of mountain areas and conservation of the environment and lay the bases for future cooperation.

After two years, on April 20th to 22th , 2007, was held in Covadonga, Principality of Asturias, the “IV Seminar on Mountain Sports and Natural Protected Areas” involving more than 60 participants from Mountaineering Federations and managers of Natural Protected Areas from 12 Autonomous Communities. The Seminar was organized in this case by FEDME, the Asturias Mountaineering Federation, the government of Asturias and the Autonomous Organization of National Parks. As in previous seminars, two texts were agreed by consensus in order to establish future guidelines of action.

The technical working group on “Canyoning in Natural Protected Areas” addressed a similar work about climbing two years ago raised, although in this opportunity look for a solution to problems in specific places, such as Asturias and Aragon, which at least, other areas haven’t.

The technical working group on “Mountaineering and environmental education” stars in the common idea that mountaineering has been linked from its origins in Spain and Europe to a wish of explore and learn about the nature by practicing a sport whose essence goes through the respect of nature and learning values and positive attitudes for the person and the society and show to the future that commitment of mountaineers/climbers with the environmental education.

The year 2009 is organized in Los Barrios, Cádiz, Andalusia, in the area of the Natural Park of Los Alcornocales, the “V Seminar on Mountain Sports and Natural Protected Areas”. This time has been managed by FEDME, under the Honorary Presidency of HM King Juan Carlos I, with collaboration from the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine affairs, the Government of Andalusia, the Andalusian Mountaineering Federation and Town Hall Villa de los Barrios. While trying to reach a new agreement on “Hiking and rural development”, the seminar look back and valuate the work done in these ten years of seminars on Mountain Sports and Natural Protected Areas.

Between April 8th and 10th , 2011, the VI Seminar was held in the beautiful setting of the Sanctuary of Arantzazu (Oñati-Guipuzcoa). FEDME was supported in this case by the Guipuzcoa Mountain Federation (integrated in the Basque Federation), the Rural Development Department of the Provincial Council of Guipuzcoa, the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs, Kutxa and Town Hall of Oñati. Saturday 9th was focused on topics of the seminar with the titles: “Mountain Races in Natural Protected Areas” and “Traditional Uses, Rural Development and Mountain Sports”.

The CENEAM (National Center for Education in Nature), Valsaín-Segovia held the VII Seminar on Mountain Sports and Natural Protected Areas in November 15th to 17th, 2013 with the collaboration of Autonomous Organization of National Parks. On Saturday 6th the discussion focused to approval the document “Safety on the Mountain”. Also a discussion about Current Problems of Climbing was an important part of the program.


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