Experts from seven European regions met last week for the second workshop of the BID-REX project.
Matching conservation priorities with regional development policies while paying special attention to ERDF fund availability is a critical challenge to deploy robust and effective biodiversity conservation strategies at European and regional levels. However, the development of conservation priorities requires the adequate mobilisation of consistent, relevant and structured biodiversity information aimed at feeding and eventually guiding decision-making.
Better prioritization of biodiversity conservation efforts using evidence-based methods
BID-REX aims to enhance natural value preservation through improved regional development policies by creating/reinforcing the link between relevant biodiversity data and conservation decision-making processes. More specifically, it aims to facilitate the use of biodiversity information and increase the impact of ERDF allocation in the preservation of the European natural heritage by providing decision-making processes with appropriate biodiversity information.
Environment and resource efficiency
Catalonia has chosen Axis 6 (Protect the environment and promote resource efficiency) from OP 2014-2020 as one of the priorities for EDRF. Within Axis 6, there are 2 strategic objectives (SO) directly related to protection, development and management of natural areas. Catalonian OP defines SO 6.3.2 like an opportunity to create and preserve adequate infrastructures in natural areas to preserve and reinforce their touristic potential. Moreover, this SO proposes the valorisation of natural and rural areas to improve their socioeconomic development. Likewise, SO 6.4.1 has focused on to the preservation of natural heritage in rural areas through the development of green infrastructure, restoration and management of habitats and a better dissemination of the protected areas natural values to citizens. Most of these activities are directly influenced by our knowledge of the current status of biodiversity in these areas to achieve more sustainable activities and enterprises in rural and natural areas.
PO6 « Conserve and protect the environment and promote resources efficiency» is one of the 7 priorities of the OP and is closely related to the objective 1 of the Basque Environmental Framework Programme 2020. The Basque Government has incorporated the environment as a cross-cutting element that decisively contributes to wellbeing, job creation and developing a future-looking and strong economy. To create appropriate policies to protect natural spaces and biodiversity we must understand how the species within the habitats interact, and how they might respond to changes and pressures, natural and manmade, which is directly related with TO1 (Strengthening research, technological development and innovation) and TO2 (Enhancing access to, and use and quality of, information and communication technologies). TO6 should be also synergetic with the other objectives, i.e. promoting nature-based employment opportunities and promoting green infrastructure, developing nature-friendly transport corridors, developing institutional capacity and public administration, creating destinations for educational visits to enhance knowledge on the natural environment, etc. The role of biodiversity objectives and criteria would be to strategically encourage projects providing benefits to biodiversity and/or ensure that possible negative impacts of projects on biodiversity are avoided. The objectives and criteria should be agreed from a regional network of knowledge.
Objective 6.1 of the ERDF promotes Investment in green infrastructure (GI) and actions to support provision of ecosystem services to increase local natural capital and support sustainable economic growth. These activities aim to reverse decline in, restore and enhance degraded ecosystem services, and halt biodiversity loss. The improved local environment will serve as a catalyst to economic growth.
The United Kingdom is below trajectory for achieving Biodiversity 2020 targets of 50% of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) to be in favourable condition by 2020 with a consequent impact on the condition of the Natura 2000 network. Targets for the policy are an increase of GI area and surface area of habitats supported in order to attain a better conservation status.
There is also an opportunity to improve environment protection through investments in green and blue infrastructure to develop more efficient use of natural and manmade capital. Currently however, implementation of the policy instrument often encounters problems with the type and accessibility of data for targeting GI, informing management and for decision-making.
Marche Region has addresses the Regional Ecological Network (REM) as the political instrument to preserve biodiversity and the care of landscape as shared values for the benefits of the community. REM has been defined at regional level for implementing recommendations on development of ecological functioning. It is, therefore, necessary to deepen at local level the knowledge and management tools, in particular those referred to the “nodes” of Network made of ecosystems and habitats of species protected at EU level.
Detailing the REM through monitoring results allows the updating and further implementation of the informative system (SIT Biodiversità), and permit to implement REM among Public Deciders, policy makers and environmental stakeholders. Thanks to the project it will be possible to create a methodology for sharing biodiversity information with policy makers to have an impact on regional policies in different sectors: from agriculture to territorial planning, tourism, all linked to the ERDF and/or EARDF resources, so to integrate existing policies, having a leverage effect on the resources employed.
Regulation on Ljubljana Marsh Natural Park is a keystone legal document establishing the area, nature conservation goals, rules and regulations for obtaining those goals and long-term development strategies of the Park. Regulation foresees implementation of measures for long-term conservation of species and habitats within the Ljubljana Marsh Nature Park (Natura 2000 area) where conservation mainly depends on sustainable agricultural practices. Ljubljana Marsh Nature Park covers Slovenia’s largest complex of wet, traditionally managed grasslands with hedges and forests, shrubs and watercourses. The area is well-known for its rich biodiversity, which is the result of specific cultivation practices which are no longer economically viable. However, limited nature conservation resources and user conflicts call for establishment of a clear and inclusive prioritization process based on well-structured biodiversity information and exchange of knowledge on agricultural practices, which will identify priority sites, optimal agricultural practices and financial instruments for implementation.
The Ljubljana Marsh has been identified as one of the priority areas in the Natura 2000 Management programme for Slovenia for the period 2014-2020 (PUN2000). However, the suggested measures have a focus on qualification Natura 2000 species in terms of the Bird and Habitat Directive implementation, but a wider biodiversity frame is necessary to achieve effective sustainable measures. The need for prioritization and knowledge exchange on agricultural practices was also identified in the draft of Ljubljana Marsh Nature Park management plan, which is under preparation and which can be largely improved by broader biodiversity views.
Hungary elaborated its Environment and Energy Efficiency Operational Program 20142020 (EEEOP) aiming to implement economic growth based on the high added value production and job creation in accordance with the protection of human life and environmental elements. From its 5 priority axes, Priority Axis 4 is tackled in the project: ‘Nature protection and wildlife protection related developments’ with the objective of protecting biodiversity and soil, promoting ecosystem services e.g. through Natura 2000 and green infrastructures. The EEEOP is related to EU 2020 thematic objectives 4, 5 and 6 and is fully funded by ERDF We deal with Measure 3 from Priority Axis 4 titled: ‘Strategic studies for the national implementation of the long term conservation and development of natural values of community interest and the objectives of EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020’. In recent years, there has been a concrete demand on behalf of developers to have adequate tools and applying new data and information and to integrate those to support the decision making process. The definition and planning of priorities are strongly required during the development activities using ERDF sources. Resulting in new synergies, an improved, more efficient decision making process will provide a better environment for updated governance.
Hungarian webpage of BID-REX: www.bid-rex.hu
The Regional Policy Statement for Wallonia (RPSW) 2014-2019 aims clearly under the point XXI /2 the strengthening of biodiversity and nature conservation through the development of nature reserves, the Natura 2000 program and European nature restoration LIFE projects by improving the partnership dynamics between public authorities, associations, owners and managers of the sites, by evaluating management measures, simplifying procedures and adapting them to local and economic realities. On 20th July 2015, the EC has adopted the Walloon rural development program (PWDR), which means Wallonia need to improve all measures described inside. Particularly, the measure 7.6 “Restoration of the natural heritage and preserving biodiversity” aims to implement the goals of the policy instrument RPSW.
DGO3 is responsible for this implementation. The Walloon Government has also agreed upon the PWDR on July 23th, giving an additional instrument to nature conservation.
Experts from seven European regions met last week for the second workshop of the BID-REX project.
A regional seminar was held in Basque Country last month
The Marche Region has held a series of local stakeholder meetings
On 19 April 2017, UEA presented best practice developed in Norfolk region and learning outcomes from the first BID-REX Thematic Workshop to NESAC
The Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia (CTFC) and the Government of Catalonia organised a Local Stakeholder Group meeting last month.
The BID-REX project was introduced at the final EU BON meeting last month.
The second local stakeholder meeting for biodiversity data providers was held at the National Institute of Biology in Ljubljana earlier this week.
Norfolk County Council attended NERC's envEXPO 2017 to showcase the work of BID-REX
The first workshop of the BID-REX project took place in Wallonia in February.
Basque agencies exchange ideas and experiences on information needs in the scope of biodiversity