Funded Projects 2014-2020

Project ASCENT

Project Acronym ASCENT
Project Title Apply Skills And Conserve Our Environment With New Tools
Project Website


The ASCENT project will bring together Local and Environmental Authorities to collectively address the environmental challenges facing the conservation and enhancement of Areas of Natural beauty in the partner regions. The ASCENT project will develop management plans across the programme area to assist Local Authorities and other stakeholders to monitor these sites and implement innovative measures to ensure their economic and environmental sustainability. The project will look at how to use and manage the mountains and upland areas responsibly, will examine new ways to deal with the sites, learn from other regions using a teacher learner principle, examine habitat damage and habitat restoration, and introduce appropriate site specific mitigation measures. The project will create living laboratory situations, explore new concepts for balancing tourism, cultural and economic interests with environmental needs. The project will disseminate and generate knowledge on the impacts on the environment, local biodiversity resources and promote civic pride among communities of their environmental resources, and unique local cultural heritage. Project outputs include learning, exchange of ideas and measures to arrest the decline and degradation of Natura 2000 sites and other sites (SACs) caused by unregulated / unrestricted access to mountains.


  1. To undertake international learning and knowledge exchange and transfer across the partner regions, This objective seeks through the teacher to learner principle to build knowledge and skills through the transfer of learning and expertise across the partner regions. Research, site and exchange visits and thematic seminars will provide added value.
  2. Designing solutions and interventions for sustainable environmental management, Project ASCENT will put in place management plans and models across the 5 partner regions and provide tools and techniques which wil create a lasting legacy and enhance the skills, knowledge and competencies of local communities and stakeholder groups.
  3. Trialling of practical initiatives for sustainable environmental management, Project ASCENT will utilise the teacher:learner principles in partner regions to implement a range of innovative solutions to path and upland management, including new management models, environmental low impact solutions; capacity building, ICT tools.



Influencing policies:

The Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources in Iceland adapted the structure of ASCENT´s upskilling courses focused at path work and habitat restoration. These seminars laid a foundation for further development of courses held around the country and funded by three ministries. Hossa National Park in Finland has piloted and launched new visitors´ survey (EN,FI) measuring the impact of nature tourism. The system spread nationwide and was acknowledged by the Ministry of the Environment.

Building institutional capacity:

Through the site visits and seminars partners learnt new skills, such as landscaping, using sheep wool and pine branches in new unforeseen ways which increased their capacity to deal with issues arising from unregulated access to natural sites. Empowering local communities and preparing them for future challenges was a central part of the project. Following the project, County Donegal has received a public funding to restore the path on Errigal Mountain.

Raising awareness:

Awareness videos were produced to inform and educate the visitors and stakeholders of the ASCENT project in preserving access in a sustainable manner, to communicate clearly the sensitivity of the natural environment and to advise of the measures adopted through the ASCENT project to address those. Through the project, Odda municipality and Trolltunga AS received assistance with the introduction of mountain guards, which reduced the number of rescue operations from 40 in 2016 to 15 in 2017.

Lead Partner


Project Info

Environmental protection, climate change, pollution (soil, water, air), waste management
4 Natural and Cultural Heritage
4 Increased capacity for sustainable environmental management
Project duration
30-04-16 to 30-08-18
Total budget
1 659 253 EUR
NPA co-financing
1 017 394 EUR
Target groups
higher education and research
local public authority
sectoral agency
enterprise, including SME
regional public authority