CB786 “Nature Access to All (NatAc)”

On 7 May 2021 the NatAc project partners in cooperation with the Europarc Federation held a webinar on nature access to all.

National Parks, nature heritage sites and symbolic landscapes are our national values and contribute to the quality of life. They are also an important source for environmental education, recreation, and tourism. But are they accessible for all?

Getting to nature can sometimes be challenging, due to a rocky path surface, a boardwalk being too narrow, too steep, too slippery or due to there being no nature trail at all. This affects not just those with a disability, but also people with temporary injuries, parents with small children, seniors, in fact, the largest part of the population. Adapting the environment and services to all is part of a sustainable development concept and is important, both from the social, as well as the economic perspective.

In this webinar, we had the opportunity to learn both from the perspective of nature accessibility experts and users about the challenges that getting access to nature poses to people with disabilities as well as the pressures the Covid-19 pandemic is putting on nature trails. Likewise, we had the opportunity to know some of the existing educational and accessibility solutions and programmes that work in this line in different parts of Europe.

The first case study was brought from the hand of Sanna Kalmari, Accessible Travel Specialist & Travel Blogger from Finland. She spoke about nature as a part of national identity. Finland is the most forested country in Europe and big part of everyday life also for Sanna, who is a power wheelchair user. Sanna spoke about what accessible nature means for her, but shared also general tips how accessible nature should be promoted. She highlighted that people with accessibility needs have unique needs and they want to make choices just like everybody else. That’s why it’s important to have different kind of accessible trails.

Sanna Kalmari

Dafne Farré, Public Use and Environmental Education Technician from the Barcelona Provincial Council, Spain, presented in detail the Accessibility resources present at the Natural Parks Network of this region: the environmental programmes and services, the teaching materials and practicable itineraries. Dafne also presented the Natural Parks Network Accessibility Plan, its key steps needed to deploy accessible trails and its maintenance.

Alise Lūse, NatAc Projedct Leader and Accessible Nature Tourism & Trails Practitioner from Latvia, exposed the work that the project Nature Access to All (NatAc) is carrying out for implementing accessibility solutions and promoting the understanding in Latvia, Estonia and Finland. In her presentation, Alise shared a number of examples on how to make easy and efficient accessibility solutions at trails, incl. a path, a toilet, a resting area, info stands & tactile objects, as well as mentioned the recently developed mapeirons.eu platform, which contains a map and detailed information on more than 1000 accessible places.

Chest of senses

Moderation at webinar was provided by Andris Klepers, the leading researcher and associated professor from the Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences.

Andris Klepers

Watch the seminar online

The webinar was organised with support of the Central Baltic Programme 2014-2020 as part of the project CB786 “Nature Access to All” (NatAc).

Information provided by:
Alise Lūse                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Project Manager
Tel.: +371 26567874, alise.luse@kurzemesregions.lv