BEST to support sustainable conservation of biodiversity in EU Overseas
By Phénia Marras-Aït Razouk, French Biodiversity Agency
EU Overseas biodiversity is exceptionally rich and is recognized as being of international importance. The concerned EU’s Outermost Regions (ORs) and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) include over 150 islands and harbour a biodiversity that is very rich and particularly at risk as islands are highly vulnerable to invasive species, development, and climate change impacts. Note that ORs and OCTs together host more than 20% of the world’s coral reefs and lagoons.
Since 2010, the European Union is implementing the BEST pilot initiative for a voluntary scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of European Overseas which overall objective is to support the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of ecosystem services, including ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Nevertheless, there is a need to establish further partnerships and build a financial support mechanism sustainable for years to come, as many valuable projects still await financing.
Within this framework, the European funding programme BEST 2.0 is dedicated to projects in the OCTs and aims to enable, empower and strengthen local authorities and civil society organisations which are committed to local development, biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of ecosystem services. Up to date, about 43 proposals have been supported including 41% of marine projects.
The BEST 2.0 programme selected the COPRA project in the Indian Ocean. This project is implemented by the French Marine Nature Park of the Glorioso Islands (PNM des Glorieuses) between 2017 and 2019. The specific objective is marine phanerograms seagrass conservation and integrated management in order to maintain the functional role of marine turtle population. This project contributes to the management plan of the PNM des Glorieuses designed for the next 15 years. The COPRA project activities concern 3 interdisciplinary field missions; install a network of stations; a tagging programme for the green immature turtles and the study of their spatial distribution. Regional workshops for cooperation will enable to set guidelines and harmonize protocols and seagrass monitoring methods.