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Natura 2000 – vital for Europe’s economy, employment and regional identity

The Third Annual Conference of the European Learning Network on Regions and Biodiversity took place on 10-11 December 2014 at the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site in Barcelona, Spain and brought together over 100 participants from regions all over Europe.

The conference concluded that it is vital to keep the EU Natura 2000 ecological network protected areas alive, and to further expand them. The Natura 2000 network is the backbone of Europe’s natural heritage. It is vital for Europe’s economy, employment and regional identity. This was illustrated by many successful local and regional Natura 2000 cases.

The conference participants felt that all relevant local stakeholders, such as site managers, land users and local politicians, should become more involved in the functioning of the Natura 2000 network. As regards Natura 2000, challenges include increasing the funding for conservation and management efforts, mobilising the potential of Natura 2000 for the green economic growth of municipalities and regions, enhancing their role for health and well-being, and increasing communication towards people and key stakeholders, while decreasing bureaucracy and conflicts.

The conference was organised by ECNC together with the EU Committee of the Regions, Eurosite, and the United Nations Environment Programme, in cooperation with the Government of Catalunya and the Barcelona Provincial Council. The conference was organised in cooperation with and with financial support from the European Commission.