Boite à outils

Common Horizons

Exchanges between the French and Walloon parks have only become more frequent and fruitful in the last few years. Is it time to go further, and make the relationship between the two official? Can we imagine a future when the two parks are merged into one? Initial studies and forecast analyses have been initiated to start to answer these questions.

The Charter for the Scarpe-Escaut Regional Nature Park is valid until 2022, the same year that the Escaut Plains Nature Park Management Plan reaches its end date. Is there a direct link? Not essentially, but 2022 does represent the beginning of a new phase, when the two parks could become a single entity.

In terms of governance and management, the joining of the two parks clearly has advantages: simplified decision-making processes and project set-up, as well as the sharing of technical and financial resources. At the same time, this slightly utopian desire to erase the border faces enormous obstacles which can only be overcome with specialist technical and legal input; few protected areas in Europe have managed to achieve the major step of cross-border integration.

To move the process forward, the European Interreg IV France-Wallonia programme has backed the ‘Towards a new governance of the Hainaut Cross-border Nature Park’ project, launched at the end of 2011. With an allocated budget of €398,000 and a duration of two and a half years, this project aims to study potential ways of setting up a legal structure for the cross-border park, and at the same time seeks to establish an appropriate policy and technical framework. This ambitious project includes a large number of proposed actions, of which the following are key:

  • Publication of information on the Hainaut Cross-border Nature Park with the aim of reaching an international readership.
  • Application for ‘Transboundary Parks’ certification awarded for cross-border cooperation by the EUROPARC Federation.
  • Research and analysis of cross-border cooperation dynamics in Europe’s nature parks.
  • Creation of networking opportunities between cross-border protected areas in Wallonia, France and Europe to share experience and best practice.
  • Analysis of national and EC legal frameworks in order to determine the most appropriate legal instrument for cross-border cooperation that could be applied to the Park.

Presentation of a rationale for possible future structures for the Hainaut Cross-border Nature Park with the strengths, weakness, opportunities and risks inherent in each scenario clearly defined.








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