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.

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