Spatial planning for the implementation of the Carpathian Convention

Implementation of the Carpathian Convention depends, to a large extent, on the cooperation of its Parties in the field of spatial planning, and integration of the objectives of the Convention into consideration in their national policies relating to spatial planning and regional development.

The main goal of the Convention is the protection and sustainable development of the Carpathian region, whereas the main purpose of spatial planning is the rational use of space and the environment for harmonious social and economic development.

One of the general principles of the Convention (Article 2, paragraph 2) is that the Parties shall promote integrated planning and management of land and water resources in sectoral policies referred to in Articles 4 – 13. Furthermore, each of the thematic Protocols to the Framework Carpathian Convention includes a provision on the integration of the objectives of the protocol into other sectoral policies, including in particular the policy on spatial planning and land resources management.

Spatial planning policy integrates and harmonizes a number of the above-mentioned sectoral policies, taking into account the natural, social, economic and cultural conditions of the areas subject to planning. Therefore, spatial planning should not be perceived solely as a separate domain governed by the Convention, but primarily as a tool for the implementation of the Framework Convention and all its thematic protocols.

Spatial planning is explicitly referred to in Article 5 of the Carpathian Convention, according to which the Parties shall pursue policies of spatial planning aimed at the protection and sustainable development of the Carpathians, which shall take into account the specific ecological and socio-economic conditions in the Carpathians and their mountain ecosystems, and provide benefits to the local people (Art. 5, paragraph 1).

Accordingly to Convention (Art. 5, paragraph 3) in developing spatial planning policies and programmes, particular attention should, inter alia, be paid to transboundary transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructure and services; conservation and sustainable use of natural resources; coherent town and country planning in border areas; preventing the cross-border impact of pollution; integrated land use planning, and environmental impact assessments.

But of particular importance for achieving the objectives of the Convention is the transboundary cooperation of the competent public administration units of neighboring Parties in the field of spatial planning in border areas. The Parties shall aim at coordinating spatial planning in bordering areas, through developing transboundary and/or regional spatial planning policies and programmes, enhancing and supporting co-operation between relevant regional and local institutions (Art. 5, paragraph 2). Furthermore, the Convention recommends the preparation of coordinated or joint management plans for transboundary or bordering protected areas and other sites of touristic interest (Art. 9, paragraph 2).

Transboundary cooperation in the field of spatial planning is also indispensable for the implementation of thematic protocols to the Convention, e.g. the provisions of Art. 16 of the Protocol on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and landscape, concerning consultation, harmonization and coordination of measures undertaken in the border areas (e.g. with respect to transboundary protected areas or natural habitats of endangered species located on both sides of the state border); and the provisions of Art. 20 of the Protocol on sustainable tourism, concerning the coordination of management plans for the development of sustainable tourism and development of common management plans for border areas with neighboring Parties.

In 2008 the Second Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP2) to the Carpathian Convention adopted a decision (Decision COP2/2 paragraph 5) calling on “the spatial planning/development authorities of the Carpathian countries to continue the cooperation on issues relevant for spatial planning to achieve the territorial cohesion of the Carpathian region”, reiterated in 2014 (Decision COP4/2 paragraph 1).

Spatial planning is also perceived indispensable for the maintenance and restoration of the green infrastructure (GI), which is explicitly emphasized by the European Commission:


In practice, one of the most effective ways of building a Green Infrastructure is through spatial planning. This enables interactions between different land uses to be investigated over a large geographical area. Strategic level spatial planning will help to:

  • locate the best places for habitat enhancement projects (e.g. involving restoration or re-creation of habitats) to help reconnect healthy ecosystems, improve landscape permeability or improve connectivity between protected areas;
  • guide infrastructure developments away from particularly sensitive nature areas and instead towards more robust areas where they might additionally contribute to restoring or recreating GI features as part of the development proposal; and
  • • identify multi-functional zones where compatible land uses that support healthy ecosystems are favoured over other more destructive single-focus developments.

Building a Green Infrastructure for Europe. European Union, 2013


Spatial planning for the Polish Carpathians

The basic legal act regulating the process of spatial management in Poland is the Law on Spatial Planning and Development (Dz.U. 2016, item 778), regulating the principles for shaping the spatial policy by public administration units at different levels, and defining the division of tasks and responsibilities in the field of spatial planning.

According to the Law on Spatial Planning and Development, the formulation and conduct of spatial policy in the community (including the adoption of a “study of conditions and directions of spatial management”, and constituting the acts of the local law “local spatial development plans”) are the responsibilities of the municipality (Article 3, paragraph 1), while the formulation and conduct of spatial policy in the whole province (including the adoption of the regional spatial development plan) is the responsibility of the regional self-government (Art. 3, paragraph 3).

Pursuant to Article 15 paragraph 2 of this Law it is mandatory for the local spatial development plan (abbreviated in Polish as “MPZP”) to determine the designation (allowed use) of an area, and the demarcation lines between areas of different designations, or different management rules (thus the local plan determines the functions and the range of particular functional areas). The local plan also determines the rules for the protection and shaping the spatial order, for the protection of the environment, nature and cultural landscape, and for the maintenance of cultural heritage and historical monuments present in the territory of particular community.

See also:
The “Code of Good Practice in Shaping the Carpathian Space