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Highlights Natura 2000 Expert Group meeting


On 18 April 2016 Eurosite’s Network Development Manager represented Eurosite at the 14th meeting of the European Commission’s Expert Group on the Management of Natura 2000. The most interesting highlights of the meeting are summarized here.

European Commission is finalizing a study that is looking into the integration of Natura 2000 and biodiversity into EU funding (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD); European Regional Development Fund (ERDF); Cohesion Fund (CF); and European Social Fund (ESF)). The sample was 101 Operational Programmes (OPs) for different funds across 16 geographical units (Member State or region).

The final study will be available on the Natura 2000 financing page soon. Some conclusions are:

  • There is better integration in the Rural Development Programmes than other OPs;
  • Priority Action Frameworks (PAFs) seem to be helpful but not sufficiently covered yet;
  • The principle of complementarity is not fully used;
  • It is difficult to earmark and show the allocation for biodiversity precisely;
  • Targets and indicators are often not adapted to monitor progress.

Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF) and LIFE Integrated Projects were presented as still not adequately used sources of funding. NCFF is providing loans and investments for projects that deliver profit or significant savings (a valid business case), by working in nature and climate projects. There are two project ideas being assessed at the moment: Irish Sustainable Forestry Fund and Rewilding Europe.

LIFE Integrated Projects are meant to implement PAFs, coordinate different funding sources and engage additional funding. These often require partnerships of 50+ partners. To support the extremely complex process of project development there is funding available to finance this up to 100,000 Euro. These funds are still available even for the 2016 submission.

The Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process is entering the second round of biogographical seminars. This has been seen as the right moment to adapt the strategic orientations for the further development of the process in the coming years. The main changes will include the following:

  • Strengthening and focusing the work of the Process in contributing to meeting the EU 2020 Biodiversity objectives, primarily the full implementation of the Nature Directives (Target 1), i.e. the improvement of conservation status.
  • Developing, discussing and working on the implementation strategies for biogeographical level favourable reference values (FRVs);
  • Strengthening the marine aspect of the process;
  • Continuing to facilitate and further develop the cooperation between Member States, stakeholder organisations, environmental NGOs and specialist networks on the management of Natura 2000 as a coherent ecological network.

The main principle in further work will be focusing on the so called ‘low hanging fruit’ in improving the conservation status – in order to be able to show success in achieving the Target 1.

Europarc Federation presented a communication toolkit for Natura 2000 managers developed by EME (Efficient Managers for Efficient Natura 2000 Net – LIFE project). Effective communication is an essential component of professional success and to that end, this toolkit Be a Better Communicator: Tools and Tips to help Natura 2000 Managers with accompanying manual, training course, and other materials have been created to inspire, assist and support all involved in Natura 2000 management.

SEO/Birdlife LIFE project ‘Activa Red Natura 2000: Connecting people with biodiversity’ has released its new publication ‘Natura 2000 Network Handbook for journalists’ in Spanish and English. This publication is trying to publicize the importance of the Natura 2000 Network and to raise public awareness of its conservation.