Environmental organisations urge Council of Europe to maintain Bern Convention budget
Ahead of crucial debates on the financing of the Bern Convention, European NGOs have addressed a letter to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe urging it to ensure the financing and proper functioning of the Bern Convention – the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
Facing difficult financial times, the Council of Europe is considering budgetary cuts that inevitably would reduce the Bern Convention’s operations. In their letter, the NGOs reiterate that the Treaty directly benefits Europe’s nature and protected species and are asking decision makers to continue to financially support the Convention.
The Bern Convention aims to ensure conservation of wild flora and fauna and their habitats, affording urgently needed protection to Europe’s’ most threatened species and habitats. Encompassing all countries in the European continent, extending to the Mediterranean region, and including both members and non-members of the European Union, the Bern Convention forms the foremost binding international legal instrument in the field of Nature Conservation in the European region.
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the Bern Convention, the NGOs call on the Council of Europe and the member countries not to cut down on environment spending and to maintain the Convention’s budget, and especially its compliance system.
Convention’s “Case File system”
The environmental organizations especially emphasize the value of the Convention’s “Case File system”, an open and democratic compliance mechanism that is unparalleled among international treaties. Through this valuable instrument, the public and civil society can raise attention to possible breaches of the Convention, and bring environmental problems in their countries to the international level for discussion. The Convention’s member states can then decide to monitor the issue and adopt Recommendations to urge governments to accelerate conservation efforts. In their letter, the NGOs showcase examples where the system has achieved substantial and tangible improvements.
At a time when numerous achievements have been accomplished, but countless environmental problems still remain, the Bern Convention is an essential tool to preserve Europe’s wildlife and natural heritage for the next generations. It is therefore paramount that the necessary financial means remain at the Convention’s disposal.
– T-PVS(2018) 6. Concept Paper on the financial mechanism of the Bern Convention.
– T-PVS(2018)15. Additional discussion paper on Agenda item 3.1.
– T-PVS(2018)Misc. List of decisions and adopted texts.
New members from Switzerland and France
Binntal Nature Park is a regional platform for the conservation of the rich natural and cultural heritage, ensuring sustainable economic activities and strengthening the cohesion of the population.
Binntal Nature Park has been the first protected area in the entire Canton of Valais that was recognized as “regional nature park of national importance” by the Swiss Government in the year 2011.
Binntal is known as “the valley of hidden treasures” and for its wealth of geological resources. Nature has made the Binn valley one of the regions of the Alps richest in mineral deposits. Up until now, 273 different minerals have been discovered, 23 are unique in the world.
Flora and fauna are utterly diverse, too. 184 animal and plant species that are on the red list have been found in Binntal Nature Park. The diversity of animals, plants, and habitats is astonishing: low-moor bogs, dry neglected grassland, dark spruce forests, barren alpine pastures, lush meadows, glacier forelands, sparse pine forests, dark mountain lakes, rock steppes, old fields, alpine meadows and much more, form a varied mosaic.
Lynchets, hay meadows, alpine pastures, paths, dry-stone walls, stables, barns, and alpine cabins shape the traditional cultural landscape and bear witness to the diligence and hard work of past generations.
The villages and hamlets with their dark houses made of sun-kissed larch wood are so beautiful and well preserved that they were incorporated into the Federal Inventory of Objects of National Importance.
Since the start of the second part of the 20th century, the regional economy has been undergoing a long-lasting structural change from an agrarian to a service society including a shift from jobs in agriculture to jobs in the service sector.
During this transformation many jobs have been lost in the areas of craftsmanship and trade. Some of them could be replaced due to the growth of the service industry, which was especially induced through tourism.
The effects that urbanization and globalization had on the agglomerations and depletion of the peripheral regions, which are the results of the concentration of growth, have been noticeable since the mid-90s.
Located ten minutes from downtown Le Mans and a few meters from the Abbey of Epau, the Domaine de l’Arche de la Nature offers visitors a vast natural space that represents the main landscapes of the Sarthe region.
Along the way, visitors will discover the river, the forest, the countryside and can visit the Water House, the Forest House, and the Maison de la Prairie. The sports fields and playgrounds for children will delight young and old alike. In all, 450 hectares of nature are permanently open to the public.
Since 1997, L’Arche de la Nature has been offering its many nature events. This natural space, created and managed by Le Mans Métropole, combines a spirit of discovery of nature with relaxation, particularly during major thematic popular festivals that welcome more than 70,000 visitors each year.
Farmer’s Pride: your answers are needed!
Farmer’s Pride is a European Union funded project involving a diverse range of stakeholders. They are building a collaborative network for on-site conservation and sustainable use of Europe’s plant diversity for food, nutrition and economic security throughout the region. They are currently running 2 surveys, and your participation is needed!
Establishing a European Network
To help establish a new European network of conservation sites and stakeholders, they are reaching out to identify individuals and organizations involved or with an interest in the conservation of wild and cultivated plant genetic resources (crop wild relatives and traditional local varieties, or landraces), whether in farms, gardens, allotment sites, protected and non-protected areas.
The survey is relevant to all stakeholders, including agro-NGOs, civil society organizations, farmers and gardeners, nature conservation NGOs, plant breeding/seed companies, policy-makers, protected area managers, research institutes, seed/gene banks, and any related networks or other relevant organizations.
Take the short stakeholder survey.
The survey is available in Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish and Turkish.
Strengthening in situ conservation
The Farmer’s Pride project is also responding to a call for action to enhance and strengthen in situ conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources (PGR) in Europe. The focus of the project is on conserving the diversity that exists in both wild and cultivated populations of species important for food, nutrition and economic security in the region.
The European Network for In Situ Conservation and Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources will comprise a network of both stakeholders and sites across Europe. It will establish a mechanism for coordinated action on PGR conservation in situ in the region, with a view to ensuring that the diversity needed for continual crop enhancement and adaptation is available for future use.
Take part in the survey which seeks to identify ‘in situ’ conservation action for crop wild relatives.
It is aimed at those involved in practical conservation of protected areas and wild plant populations in non-protected areas.
They are interested in active conservation (involving direct actions on the target species, such as monitoring, habitat improvement, herbivory control, etc.) as opposed to passive conservation (conferred by the mere presence of the species in a protected area). By gathering this information, we intend to obtain an overview of existing in situ crop wild relative conservation actions and to develop a network showcase that illustrates best practices and examples for their conservation in Europe.
For more information visit: http://www.farmerspride.eu/
Drones in Protected Areas: how can they help?
Drones are taking the world by storm. Although at first, it might seem like they are made solely for entertainment purposes, these unmanned aerial vehicles are proving to be much more. Besides providing astonishing images of your Park, they can be used to help technicians in their daily work in monitoring protected areas.
Many protected areas authorities are currently experiencing economic difficulties which hamper the good undertaking of the many tasks they have in order to ensure good management of the protected area. Drones can therefore not only be of help, but also reduce costs and improve effectiveness.
This new technology has integrated the modern park management and is used for multiple purposes (monitoring, mapping, remote sensing, photography, technical interventions in inaccessible areas…), offering numerous interesting possibilities.
They allow scientists to reach places that were previously off limits as they were either too remote, too dangerous or too time consuming to explore. They can cover large areas of ground in great detail from a completely different perspective – and as fast as ever.
The list of the ways they can be used is really long – they are getting very precise and lately, they have even been used to plant trees!
A professional insight
∼ The drone itself doesn’t do anything. It depends on the sensor you have on the drone.
In the conservations areas, the most common ones are thermal sensors which enable you to fly at night or early mornings, and use the drone for animal observation.
There is also mapping. It is done by overflying the certain area, making individual photos and, in the end, with the help of the software, creating a 3D model. It can be used for different analysis such as forest growth or even illegal logging.
The most extreme option is laser scanning. It enables you to see the entire forest structure, and not just the surface of the landscape. However, this is mainly used for scientific purposes as it involves high cots.
Using the drone and gathering the data is one thing, processing and analysing data to extract the information is something else.
Keeping that in mind, it is very important to have a good and professional team of people who don’t necessarily have to work in every protected area individually, but can instead cover entire regions, or towns, depending on the specific country.
Just in case you are still skeptical about them, take a look at all the ways they can help specific protected area.
What can they do?
If you are trying to find out what drones can specifically do in protected area, take a look at Collserola Natural Park in Barcelona. Here is the example of all the different things they are using drones for:
1. Maintenance of furniture and pieces of equipment
The drone is periodically used to take pictures from the equipment and furniture scattered all over the park and to make topographic plans from different picnic and leisure areas. In this way, the Protected Area authority can detect for example when a piece of furniture needs to be fixed or repaired.
2. Forest fires
3. Power lines
The drone is being used to calculate the distance from trees to the power line in order to maintain in good condition the safety trip between power lines and nearest trees.
4. Agriculture management
The drone is used to do topographic maps in 3D and check for shady areas. This will help to improve grape crops by detecting where it is best to plan what variety.
The drone is also been used to detect nests of Asian hornets Vespa velutina – an invasive alien species that is badly affecting beehives and grape crops – in order to eliminate them. To do that, a thermal camera is coupled to the drone since the leaves of the forest trees hampers the use of normal cameras.
5. Cultural heritage
The drone is used to take 3D pictures from the built elements present in the park.
6. Vegetation monitoring
The drone can also be used to monitor the presence of other invasive species, such as Ailanthus altissima
One of the key question for PA managers, scientists and nature conservation practitioners is whether there are more positive or negative impacts resulting from the use of drones for precise conservation tasks. There are many other potential uses of drones in Collserola Natural Park linked with public use such as monitoring massive events or, with fauna, remote sensing. However, these need careful development and planning. Such aspects as permits requirement to record people gatherings and disturbance to fauna need to be considered.
If you would like to get more information and tips on drone use visit Alparc page with conference presentations on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) in protected areas.
Check also our article about the different uses of drones for nature conservation.
Are you using drones in your Park and Conservation projects?
Do you have any experience you would like to share with us? Are there specific law constraints on the use of drones in your park? Let us know your thoughts, we are preparing a webinar on the use of drones and would like to hear from you. Please send your feedback to s.grego @ europarc.org