Mediterranean Biogeographical Region – 2nd Seminar
The second seminar for the Mediterranean region took place in Limassol, Cyprus, between the 14-16th November.
The seminar was organised under the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process by ECNC and had a strong contribution from EUROPARC (in charge of reporting and preparing the input document prior to the meeting). Locally, the event was hosted by the NGO Terra Cypria, with the support of the Environment Department and the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development & Environment, Cyprus.
The seminar brought together 92 Natura 2000 practitioners and expert stakeholders from all 9 EU Mediterranean countries, as well as representatives from leading EU level institutions (European Commission, European Topic Center – Biodiversity, EASME, EEA).
Participants had the opportunity to share common experiences, discuss common challenges and build a Mediterranean roadmap for the next years.
The meeting was organised in 4 thematic working groups.
- 1. Assessment and sustainable development of ecosystems
- 2. Conservation objectives, monitoring and evaluation
- 3. Effective governance model for integrated approaches to implementation of Natura 2000
- 4. Addressing threats and pressures on Mediterranean habitats & species
Some key issues that arose during the meeting:
1) A harmonization is needed in terms of the interpretation of Habitats of Community Interest (HCI), establishment of Favourable Reference Values (FRV), procedures for the assessment of the conservation status, and priorities for conservation/restoration for the Mediterranean region;
2) Habitats are usually considered as static entities while ecosystems are inherently dynamics, both due to natural and anthropogenic factors; this should be taken into account in this harmonization of parameters
3) The Mediterranean Basin is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspot, what in practice implies a huge biogeographical variability in the species composition of habitats along the region
4) To ensure long-term habitats conservation, and according to the new conservation paradigm focused on ecosystem services, conservation status evaluations should be connected to the capacity of habitats to provide ecosystem services
5) In general, participants expressed criticisms about an excessive political approach of the Low Hanging Fruits methodology proposed to identify the Habitats that need to be prioritised for restoration. Instead, they proposed an improvement of prioritisation tools based on urgency, better scientific knowledge, and taking into account HCI conservation status in all the biogeographical regions where they are present
6) The IIRR approach (Inform, Involve, (share) Responsibilities and Reward) was proposed to overcome several problems, such lack of local awareness and/or a common language/ground, knowledge gaps about the benefits of the Natura 2000 network, lack of collaboration with all involved stakeholders and lack of a (long-term) mediator or bridging entity between the local communities and conservation issues.
7) Invasive Alien Species (IAS) constitute a real threat for Mediterranean biodiversity. Early-warning systems should be promoted to react timely to IAS pressures.
8) Another of the most pressing threats to Mediterranean biodiversity is land abandonment. There are no universal solutions: While in some cases investing in High Nature Value Farmland and subsidies are more appropriate, in other cases rewilding might be a feasible option.
Participants also had the opportunity to visit two Natura 2000 sites located in the Troodos Forest, where they could appreciate amongst others, the endemic Cyprus Golden Oak and the Life project for Restoration of Juniper.