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Twinning is in our DNA. Established in 1989, Eurosite evolved out of the European Natural Sites Twinning Programme, which linked 33 sites across Europe since 1987. This programme demonstrated the clear demand for knowledge-exchange on practical nature management and two years later in 1989, the Eurosite network was born.

Twinning is a core Eurosite tool for knowledge-exchange. Eurosite members interested in twinning are able to take advantage of Eurosite’s expertise and services in this area to establish a twinning, including support with:

  • Finding a twinning partner from within (and occasionally outside) the network
  • Developing a Twinning Agreement to formalise the cooperation
  • Promoting and publicising the twinning and the lessons learned to a broad interested audience across Europe
  • Support (ongoing and new) LIFE projects in establishing a twinning as a tool for international knowledge exchange to ensure transferability
  • Ongoing support and guidance on achieving the goals of the twinning throughout the twinning period
  • Neutral mediation in the unlikely case of a disagreement

The twinning partners decide the purpose, content and duration of their joint work. To find an appropriate partner, please send us an e-mail.

Twinning types

There are typically two types of twinning. The first is the more traditional twinning between organisations or natural sites. The focus of these twinnings could, for example, be on the transfer of knowledge from one site to another, or on the exchanges of staff, volunteers and students.

If partners prefer to collaborate on specific research projects or the development of mutually interesting projects, they can also choose a thematic twinning. This type of twinning focuses on a specific theme (e.g. communication, recreation, climate change mitigation, the protection of a certain species) and can involve all kinds of stakeholders, such as site managers, municipalities, local communities, tourist organisations and businesses.

On this page you can further find more information on ongoing twinnings, as well as twinning guides and twinning experiences.

Twinning experiences and outputs

Natural England (The Fenland National Nature Reserve Group) - Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland (North Karelia)

The goals of the Twinning are:

  • Exchange of experience and knowledge relating to planning and implementing restoration, management (especially within the European Natura 2000 network) and protection of peatland habitats and peatland related species in Finland and UK;
  • Improvements of local inhabitants involvements in active nature conservation, as the way to sustainable development;
  • Development of staff in the organisations.

As part of the Twinning, Natural England visited Finnish colleagues of Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Service in 2017. Visited sites included restored forest and (pristine) mire habitats, as well as mire sites that were awaiting restoration efforts. During the visit, emphasis was placed on the exchange of knowledge regarding how climate dictates main habitats and as such the land use. When comparing restoration techniques, Twinning partners discovered that the techniques used varied greatly due to habitat (disturbance) differences.

Christopher Evans, Senior Reserve Manager at Natural England said:

"It was really interesting to see how a similar organisation of another country approached management decisions and monitored progress and results of works."

North Pennines AONB Partnership (UK) and Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland.

The twinning had the following goals:

  • Exchange of experience and knowledge relating to planning and implementing nature conservation and management (especially within the European Natura 2000 network) and protection of natural resources and environment;
  • Sharing experience and cross-fertilization of results and the generated knowledge between the two LIFE projects: Pennine PeatLIFE and Hydrology LIFE;
  • Sharing experience on monitoring the impacts of peatland restoration (biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, carbon sequestration, socio-economy);
  • Sharing experience on how peatland restoration, and especially the monitoring data produced by the LIFE projects could be used to safeguard ecosystem services, e.g. with respect to local socio-economy or payments for ecosystem services;
  • Sharing experience of implementation of nature and environmental projects in nature areas;
  • Improvements of local inhabitants and volunteer involvements in active nature conservation
  • Capacity building of staff in the organisations.

The main outputs of the Twinning concern the exchange of knowledge during multiple Twinning exchanges, either from the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to Finland, or from Finland to the United Kingdom. Tuomas Haapalehto of Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Service who was among the group that traveled to the UK said:

"It was fruitful to see how practical issues like ditch damming was done by the Twinning partner. We gained important knowledge on the Payment for Ecosystem Services Approach, as well as on cooperation in remote sensing monitoring. We use the information learned in everyday restoration activities and in planning the national HELMI conservation programme in Finland."

Vereniging Natuurmonumenten (the Netherlands) - Society for the Coast (Stowarzyszenie Na Rzecz Wybrzeża, Poland)

The twinning had the following objectives:

  • Exchange of experience and knowledge relating to nature conservation and nature management with special attention to Natura 2000 management plan(ning), as well as protection of natural resources managed by Partners;
  • Research the possibilities for synergy on the issue of climate change adaptation;
  • Sharing experience and joint implementation in projects in the field of nature and environment in managed areas;
  • Improvements of active nature conservation methods and tools focussing for example on chosen migrated species of birds
  • Improvements of local inhabitants’ involvements in active nature conservation, as the way to common sustainable development;
  • Capacity building of staff from both of the Partners organisation.

The first weekend of June 2016, eight ecologists of Natuurmonumenten, the Netherlands, visited the Odra Delta in Poland. The objective of the trip was to evaluate nature conservation and the twinning between Eurosite members Society for the Coast (EUCC-Poland) and Natuurmonumenten over the previous years. Jacob de Bruin of Natuurmonumenten wrote a blog article about the trip.

In May and June 2018, two more twinning visits of Natuurmonumenten staff to the Society for the Coast in the Odra Delta were carried out. The twinning has evolved into a sustainable long-term collaboration. This time, a bird survey was conducted. Additionally, both twinning partners are exploring the best ways to design a management plan for the Odra Delta.

A lesson from this Twinning was the realisation that monitoring and management plans are not interchangeably transferable from country to country. Because of diverse area and external (policy) factors, the plan has to be adaptable and flexible. This input, among other needs in natural site management, contributed to the establishment of the Eurosite Management Planning Expert Group and the Management Planning Toolkit.

WE Young People See Nature

The Twinning was developed to involve youth in nature and was started by the Society for the Coast (EUCC Poland) and Holag (The Netherlands). WE Young People See Nature is an exchange project between the Netherlands (West) and Poland (East) that facilitates teenagers to look at culture, nature, and each other through the lens of a camera. Outcomes of this Twinning have so far been:

Thematic twinning: Eurosite Peatland Restoration and Management Group (PRMG)

Building on the Interreg NWE funded project Care-Peat, the transnational Peatland Restoration and Management Group (PRMG) was established within Eurosite. The main purpose of this group is to engage nature conservation organisations, and projects, involved in this field of work, in NWE and broader. In the first instance, this group will be a platform to share the results of the Care-Peat Project by inviting the members to participate in different activities (workshops, demonstrations) around the pilot sites. In addition, the role of the Group will be to share knowledge, experiences and the development of new (transnational) projects around peatland restoration and management also beyond the Care-Peat Project and in the long term. Read more ... 

Thematic twinning: Conservation and recreation in a post-lockdown society

Covid-19 has impacted the world and our lives, and thus also the work of conservation practitioners. The new reality forced many organisations managing natural areas to come up with new approaches and work methods, as a presentation by one of the Twinning partners indicated. The goal of this Twinning was to exchange information and ideas to together develop methods to help site managers identifying efficient ways of managing natural sites in multiple aspects - ranging from volunteering restrictions to visitor management. This Twinning is composed of six partners: the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority (Romania), WWF Oasi (Italy), the Hunting Federation of Macedonia and Thrace - KOMATH (Greece), Theo de Bruin (The Netherlands), Natural Resources Wales (United Kingdom), and the Society for the Coast - EUCC Poland (Poland).

In November 2021, the partners organised a webinar on visitor management to present their findings. A recording is available on the Eurosite Youtube channel. Lastly, as an outcome of the Twinning, a permanent working group on visitor management will be established in 2022.

Thematic twinning: Meadow bird management

LIFE Nardus and Limosa project partners will carry out large-scale mining to restore sparse grasslands. In view of the international importance of the areas for breeding black-tailed godwits, curlews and lapwings, the current population should not be negatively affected by mining necessary to restore habitats. For the implementation of the project, it is essential to exchange experiences with partners who have a lot of experience with meadow bird management. Via Eurosite, the knowledge and experiences of the project can be widely spread across site managers. To give concrete form to the Twinning, there will be an average of one Twinning meeting per year. During this meeting, bottlenecks will be presented, the interim results of a study will be discussed, and knowledge and experiences will be shared. In addition to the ecological aspects of the project, attention will also be paid to the socio-economic impact of the project. This Twinning will contribute to the conservation of the meadow bird population in the recovery management of the heather sparse grasslands.

Twinning guides

The Eurosite guidelines on twinning natural sites can be downloaded below. A template Twinning Agreement is also available upon request from the Eurosite Secretariat. For further information please contact Eurosite at: info@archive.eurosite.org