The EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 & Protected Area targets

Western capercaillie in Sumava National Park © Marek Drha

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The EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 is ambitious and sets quite a few targets for Protected Areas. Here you can read EUROPARC’s concrete ideas and inputs on how these can be achieved.

EUROPARC’s recommendations

The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 wants to

ensure that Europe’s biodiversity will be on a path to recovery by 2030 for the benefits of people, the planet, climate and our economy.

We very much welcome the high level of ambition described in the EU Biodiversity Strategy and EUROPARC is willing to actively support the European Commission and Member States to ensure an effective involvement of Protected Areas in the process and contribute to the successful implementation of the strategy.

EUROPARC represents hundreds of responsible authorities and thousands of Protected Areas in 37 countries. After discussions with our members we have summarised what is needed to make sure the Biodiversity Strategy reaches its full potential, from the perspective of Europe’s Protected Areas.

Read all our recommendations here!

The 30% target

The EU Biodiversity Strategy seeks to legally protected 30% of land within Europe. This goal shall be reached by, amongst others, designating new protected sites. EUROPARC believes this can be a very valuable and necessary tool indeed. However, when locally implemented, it can also be very controversial, as we have seen in the past. Building ownership and support for the process is therefore of great importance. Obviously, scientific criteria and evidence are essential, but if we want to achieve successful implementation and long-term benefits, the interests and rights of communities and users will also have to be considered in the process.

Additionally, EUROPARC finds it crucial, that the values of existing Protected Areas, which can effectively contribute to the targets, are identified and assessed since the beginning of the process, as this will give quick wins and would contribute to gain more support, before pushing things ahead. This means, that Protected Areas that do not have conservation as the main legal reason for their designation are also included, as they are indeed contributing towards the maintenance of biodiversity through their management actions.

Improved biodiversity management should take place in all Protected Areas, not just in those ONLY designated for conservation objectives.

This means that sreas like Landscape Parks or Regional Parks should also be included, even when long-term conservation is not their only aim.

With regards to the welcome inclusion of priorities for the protection of biodiversity in urban and periurban areas. We recommend the development and adoption of specific sub-targets, measures and funds to support natural Protected Areas located in urban regions and periurban contexts, as well as the active engagement of major European cities in the process.

Management effectiveness

We do not need more paper parks. This is why EUROPARC considers management effectiveness to be a crucial point for the success of the whole process. We believe management effectiveness consists of the following core elements:

  • Management planning
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Capacity building
  • Communication

Having in place processes and tools to monitor and assess Management Effectiveness is crucial, but this will not deliver better management per se. We need to make sure managing authorities and managers on the ground are equipped with the adequate competencies to deliver effective results. This is more than just resources. Protected Area staff need a growing range of technical skills, while managers need to provide professional leadership and direction to secure and wisely use the resources needed. A clear commitment is to be taken in this direction.

The 10% strict protection target

EUROPARC welcomes the specific target on strict protection and supports the proposed definition: “Strictly protected areas are fully and legally protected areas designated to conserve (and/or restore) the integrity of biodiversity-rich natural areas with their underlying ecological structure and supporting natural environmental processes. Natural processes are therefore left essentially undisturbed from human activity”.

However, to avoid confusion surrounding the terminology, we suggest to refer to “strict protection” and “areas being strictly protected”, as we understand there is no intent to create a new designation or management category. The focus is rather on ensuring more rigorous protection in some areas.

The dilemma between broadening or not the definition is clearly challenging. We share the view of the need to increase areas in Europe where non-intervention is the primary approach. Nevertheless, both for the success of the measures – in terms of conservation results (taking also into account climate change, invasive species and restoration requirements) – and for their applicability on the ground, we see the need to foresee, also in strictly protected areas, some specific management activities, as long as necessary for the restoration and/or conservation of the habitats and species for whom the area has been designated. Active management for biodiversity (as mowing, grazing, population control…) should only be allowed for habitats or ecosystems for which non-intervention is not the appropriate approach.

Strict protection and non-intervention does not mean inaction

EUROPARC believes that activities meant to reach conservation objectives of a site should be allowed and implemented. This includes measures to find solutions compatible with the ecological needs of the site, while recognising the needs and rights of people who have customarily used the area in question.

Funding

Funding clearly remains an important element to ensure a successful implementation of the measures. For this, adequate resources will have to be considered to support management, monitoring, capacity building and enforcement of a wider European network of Protected Areas.

For feedbacks, comments or questions, please feel free to contact Federico Minozzi

EUROPARC continues to be in active dialogue with the EU and it’s institutions. If you are interested in finding out more about our work in Brussels, check out this section of our website.

Next webinar: Outdoor Sports – Engaging with or using nature?

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EUROPARC’s next webinar will take place on the 27th of April at 11:00 CET. It will look at opportunities and challenges presented to Protected Areas by increasing outdoor sports practice. You can sign up here (it’s free!).

Outdoor Sports and Nature

The connection between outdoor sports and nature seems to be an obvious one, and indeed, through the pandemic more than ever people are drawn to the outdoors. However, just because activities are practiced outside, does not necessarily mean that they are done in harmony with nature.

In some cases, outdoor sports practice can pose additional stress on already fragile habitats and sensitive species.

Protected Areas managers are therefore confronted with the task of minimising the impact of outdoor sports on local fauna and flora, and at the same time, welcoming sport practitioners and other visitors so that more people can enjoy the recognised benefits of Health Enhancing Physical Activity in the outdoors.

Sign up for the webinar here!

In this webinar, we will have the opportunity to hear from Lissa Breugelmans, an avid cyclist, with a Masters in Biology who can share a unique perspective as an outdoor enthusiast and practitioner, who understands the current impacts outdoor activities have on nature.

We will also learn from Daniele Piazza, director of the Dell’Ossola Protected Area about an integrated strategy – involving many different local stakeholders, to minimise and mitigate the effects of outdoor sports in this alpine nature park.

Myles Farnbank, from Wilderness Scotland, will present the Adventure Travel Guide Standard, a useful tool to  institutions, sustainable destinations and training programs, in order to build the capacity of the Outdoor sport sector on the three core responsibilities all trainers should have: Sustainability, Safety, and Quality and Meaning.

Webinar programme

Welcome and introduction to the webinar
By Carol Ritchie, EUROPARC Federation 

Dilemmas for an outdoor enthusiast
By Lissa Breugelmans, Outdoor sports practitioner and PhD student at University of Antwerp

The RESICETS project – Park and Outdoor Sports working together to minimise the impact of outdoor activities on wildlife
By Daniele Piazza, director of the Aree Protette dell’Ossola

The Adventure Travel Guide Standard- Showing how the Outdoor Sports sectors values nature though sustainability standards
By Myles Farnbank, Wilderness Scotland guide, fellow of The Royal Geographical Society and a Master Educator of Leave No Trace

The SEE project.  Researching the issues and finding best practice
By Mike McClure, ‎Outdoor Recreation Development Officer, ‎Sport Northern Ireland

Let’s talk about it! All participants will have the opportunity to exchange on the topics discussed and/or to ask questions.

Final remarks and Close
By Noel Doyle, Leave No Trace Ireland

The webinar will last approximately 1h 30min and it will be hosted in English. We welcome participants from all across the network and beyond.

Get to know the case study presenters

Lissa Breugelmans

She is a trained ecologist currently working in sustainable forestry, Nature is not only her research subject and office – it’s also her favourite playground. She loves packing her bike with a few essentials and getting out there, enjoying moving through incredible landscapes and admiring biodiversity.  She believes recreational outdoor users and nature protectioners share an awe for the natural world, and can be allies instead of opponents when it comes to preserving it.

Daniele Piazza

Agronomist, with more than 15 years’ experience in Natura 2000 management, planning, environmental assessment and project management both as freelance consultant and civil servant. During the last years he has been involved also in social innovation projects in marginal rural areas, with a focus on the western alpine communities. Since March 2020, he is in charge of the overall and day-to-day management of the Protected Areas of Ossola Management Body.

Myles Farnbank

Myles is an adventure guide, trainer and consultant with more than 30 years of leading clients in many of the world’s wildest places. He has been a lecturer on undergraduate programmes in Adventure Tourism and Marine & Coastal Tourism and a Masters in Ecotourism.  He has had a major role in the creation of The Adventure Travel Guide Standard (ATGS) and lead the team writing the Sustainability section in the 2nd Edition published in Feb 2021.

The SEE project: Training for a more sustainable, respectful and enjoyable outdoor sport experience

This webinar will publicly launch the ERASMUS+ SEE project, in which EUROPARC is one of the partners. Led by Leave No Trace Ireland, ‘SEE’ stands for Sustainability and Environmental Education in Outdoor Sports. The project aims to tackle the un-coordinated approach to the teaching and communication of environmental ethics in the spheres of outdoor sport and recreation.

The SEE project is ultimately about ensuring that outdoor sports are managed sustainably and responsibly in nature, which should enable Protected Areas to build greater confidence and trust to allow increased participation so that more people can enjoy the benefits of outdoor sports.

NEW IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology

Landmannalaugar, Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland by Joshua Sortino (Unsplash)

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Last month the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published its Global Typology of Ecosystems, a comprehensive system for classifying and mapping all ecosystems on Earth.

Our planet has an incredible wealth of ecosystems, all with specific traits and qualities. The new IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology sorts these ecosystems on both their functions and composition. It is the first standardised and spatially explicit ecosystem typology of its kind. IUCN Director General Dr Bruno Oberle hopes that it will provide the framework to effectively track goals that will arise out of the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Strategy.

Through grouping ecosystems according to their characteristics and functions, it will be possible to find patterns that can help with the sustainable management of these systems worldwide.

By sharing research and management experiences about ecosystem functions, dependencies and responses to management, the typology can facilitate knowledge transfer that improves management outcomes for both biodiversity and ecosystem services.

How it works

108 major ecosystems are defined within the typology, both natural, wild ecosystems, but also those shaped by humans, like agricultural lands. The typology describes the processes that sustain them, as well as their global distributions. This will help to map out common risks that similar ecosystems face globally and what is needed to protect them. Additionally, it can assist identifying which types of ecosystems are most critical to biodiversity conservation and the supply of ecosystem services.

The system is hierarchical, containing 6 levels. The first 3 levels – Realm, Biome & Ecosystem Functional Group – represent the functional features of ecosystems and are explained in the report, the other 3 – biogeographic ecotypes, global ecosystem types and subglobal ecosystem types – represent compositional features and are often already in use and incorporated into policy infrastructure at national levels and can be linked to these upper levels.

The first level divides the ecosystems in 5 global realms:

  • terrestrial;
  • subterranean;
  • freshwater (including saline water bodies on land);
  • marine;
  • the atmosphere.

At Level 2, the typology defines 25 biomes – components of a core or transitional realm united by one or a few common major ecological drivers that regulate major ecological functions.

Level 3 of the typology includes 108 Ecosystem Functional Groups that encompass related ecosystems within a biome that share common ecological drivers and dependencies, and thus exhibit merging biotic traits.

An interactive website

Additionally to the launch of the report, IUCN launched a fully interactive website. Here, users can discover all the different types of ecosystems and explore the ecosystem typology. Additionally, users can select a specific area to analyse functional groups and so identify, for example per country, which groups can be found where.

Apart from mapping out different ecosystems world wide and looking at their management, the system also aims to assist the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA). This initiative of the United Nations sets out to measure the contribution of the environment to the economy through so-called ecosystem services, and the impact of the economy on the environment. The European Union also endeavors to take into account ecosystem services and nature’s contribution when assessing the economy.

The role of Local and Regional Authorities in protecting the marine environment

Source: Adobe Stock

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The EUROPARC Federation, along with other stakeholders, has been invited to discuss challenges and opportunities related to protection of the marine environment at the subnational level. In this article, you will find a summary of the discussed points.

Subnational authorities protecting the marine environment

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is currently drafting an opinion on the role of Local and Regional Authorities in protecting the marine environment. The local and regional (subnational) dimension of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive hasn’t received enough attention yet.

Moving forward with this unexplored dimension could accelerate the ambitious task to tackle the challenges highlighted in the report on the first implementation cycle of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, published by the European Commission in June 2020.

The challenges mentioned in the report are mainly connected with the CoR’s work on the European Green Deal, specifically its environmental component, which is strategic for the post-COVID-19 green and digital recovery. A recent report from the Court of Auditors also shows that biodiversity loss continues, and points to the possibility to increase the potential of EU funding for marine conservation objectives.

Sea floor with fish. Photo: Pixabay

The rapporteur for this opinion, Ms Emma NOHRÈN (SE/Greens) invited EUROPARC and other stakeholders to discuss the most important challenges and opportunities at the subnational level, related to protection of the marine environment.

During the debate, EUROPARC stressed the role of marine Protected Areas, and underlined the following points:

  • The importance to recognize the role of Marine Protected Areas in the local plans for marine environment protection and local development.
  • The necessity to guarantee adequate political attention, budget, human resources and skills to the Marine Protected Areas, not only to achieve the 30% target planned in the new EU Biodiversity Strategy, but especially to reach a good and efficient management.
  • The importance of coordination between local, regional and national authorities in charge of marine topics.
  • At each level, the importance of coordination between the different authorities in charge of environment, fishery, transport, but also of defense (Navy) if pertinent at the regional level, and so on.
  • The need of coherence of policies in the land and in the sea, because what happens in the land (for example agricultural practices) has a decisive impact on the sea. Therefore, a coordination with Farm to Fork Strategy (also but not only for the sea food) and CAP, is essential.
  • If in charge of a Marine Protected Area, the local authority has to guarantee adequate attention and priority to the Marine Area in relation to its different policies and responsibilities.
  • In all cases, even if not directly involved in the management of Marine Protected Areas, local and regional authorities are crucial in establishing good and long-term relation with local communities and stakeholders, as fishermen and tourism business.
  • In order to guarantee involvement of the private sector, for example, the local and regional authorities have to take clear and long term political decisions. These decisions should result in a stable framework for the private sector to decide how and when to make investments and in which direction they should drive their enterprises.
  • Partnerships with local stakeholders can be supported by local authorities, with focus on dialogue and implementation of win-win solutions. For example, local and regional authorities can provide specific recognitions to fishermen that work in a sustainable way and in cooperation with the Marine Protected Areas. The same can be done for the tourism business (EUROPARC promotes for example the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected areas, that awards Protected Areas and their private partners).

Find more information about the event here!

The Draft Opinion (pre-vote) in all EU languages is available here. At the same link, from May 25th, it will be possible to download in all EU languages the final version (post-vote in CoR Plenary) of the Opinion, which will provide the formal position of the CoR on marine protection by subnational authorities.