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SELLING NATURE SHORT

Short term cuts - Long term damage to European biodiversity

On the occasion of the EUROPARC Federation conference 2010, September 29th- October 2nd,in the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park Italy around 300 international nature conservationists contributed to the Pescasseroli Declaration 2010. The document reminds governments that protected areas are key players in saving natural heritage in Europe and around the world and urges them to invest more in nature conservation.

2010 is the International year of Biodiversity. Protected areas are the keystones in the preservation of Europe’s nature and biodiversity and models of sustainable development. Knowing that these areas are embedded in cultural and national identities and that the biodiversity held within them is our fundamental life support system, the EUROPARC Federation, its members and supporters urge appropriate investment in Europe’s protected areas so that society can still benefit from the fundamental services nature provides us with in the future.

In the Pescasseroli Declaration, finalized during the plenary session of the Conference on Saturday, protected area practitioners called upon national and regional governments and the European Commission to:

-          recognise and reflect in their policies, programmes and resource allocations the need to ensure biodiversity  is maintained and ecosystem services secured for the future natural health and economic wealth of Europe.

-          use the skills and experience built up in protected areas to pilot innovative approaches to integrated land use and sustainable rural development;

-          integrate relevant public policies that will enable protected areas to better fulfil their role as management  models  with  long established community engagement .

Protected areas represent Europe’s last natural assets. Through their effective management they play a significant role in climate change mitigation, store valuable water supplies, protect soils and agriculture and maintain healthy ecosystems. Importantly they sustain local economies, provide recreation health and well being resources and inspire national and local pride. Almost one quarter of the European population, some 125 Million people, are affected directly by Europe’s protected areas, with the entire population dependant on the services they produce.

Yet government decisions across Europe have the potential to diminish these valuable areas through significant cuts in the management of these protected areas. Severe budget cuts (up to 50%) are anticipated in 2011 reflecting a regressive step and risking the valuable work that protected areas have built up over past decades. The lack of investment by governments seriously undercuts the ability of such natural sites to adequately secure the value of these natural resources, sustain economies and release the ecosystem benefits needed for society.

The EUROPARC Federation believes that Europe’s protected areas have led the way towards sustainable development and conservation of biodiversity, However they can only maximise their contribution if they are adequately recognized, resourced and operate within a supportive framework of public policy, both national and international, with specialized and well trained staff.

The EUROPARC Federation website is supported by: European UnionAlfred Toepfer Stiftung

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