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1 Natura 2000, the Ecological Network of the European Union – opportunities for tourism Micheal OBriain Nature and Biodiversity Unit, DG Environment European.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Natura 2000, the Ecological Network of the European Union – opportunities for tourism Micheal OBriain Nature and Biodiversity Unit, DG Environment European."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Natura 2000, the Ecological Network of the European Union – opportunities for tourism Micheal OBriain Nature and Biodiversity Unit, DG Environment European Commission European Day of Tourism, 7 October, 2008

2 2 What is happening to biodiversity in Europe ? 45 % of Europes butterflies threatened 38% of Europes birds threatened 40% coastal dunes lost since 1900 (1/3rd ) 12% loss of grasslands in EUR 9 ( ) loss of natural forest (now 4% of forest area) source: European Environment Agency

3 3 Biodiversity loss – importance of ecosystem services 2005 UN Millenium Ecosystem assessment highlighted importance of ecosystem services the provision of goods – food, fibre, fuel and medicines the regulation of the air we breathe and the quality of our waters soil fertility, pollination and other essential support services cultural benefits – from aesthetic enjoyment to spiritual solace

4 4 EU Action to halt the loss of biodiversity 2006 Communication on halting the loss of biodiversity to 2010 – and beyond :Sustaining ecosystem services for human well-being EU biodiversity action plan with a clear set of targets and actions to halt biodiversity loss Covers relevant sectors & horizontal policy areas in a unified way provides a joined up approach by identifying what needs to be done at Community level and at MS level.

5 5 Critical role of EU nature legislation and Natura 2000 Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) All wild birds protected + protected areas for threatened and migrating birds Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) Protected areas for threatened species and habitats + list of animal & plant species in need of strict protection NATURA 2000: the ecological network of protected areas under the Birds and Habitats Directives

6 6 The Natura 2000 network A major pillar of biodiversity action in Europe A combination of species and habitats protection Habitats Directive ~ 14% of EU territory For Birds Directive ~ 11 % of EU territory Total: >26,000 sites ~17 % of EU 25 territory

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8 8 Important features of NATURA 2000 NATURA 2000 is not a set of paper parks Site designation exclusively based on scientific criteria Strong protection system Nature conservation considerations factored into other decision-making Procedure to deal with potentially damaging developments Not limited to nature reserves Most areas privately owned emphasis on conservation and sustainable use (ecologically, economically and socially) Management plans are very useful tool

9 9 How is NATURA 2000 being financed ? Habitats Directive foresees EU co- financing Pilot projects under LIFE Programmes: e.g. the database contains 132 projects with the keyword ecotourism NATURA 2000 financial opportunities integrated into different EU funds (Regional Development, Rural Development) Aim to ensure that management of Natura 2000 sites is part of the wider land management policies of Member States

10 10 The EU Business and Biodiversity Initiative Building partnerships with business highlighted in Commissions 2006 Communication on Biodiversity The « Message from Lisbon » (2007) called on action at EU level A technical platform to engage various key sectors to exchange best practice to develop guidance to measure progress to enhance recognition of outstanding performance

11 11 Why important to engage tourism sector? Natura 2000 is about nature and people – conservation and sustainable use Risks: negative impact of mass tourism – e.g. visitors management – the need for management planning of protected areas Opportunities: for creation of local industry of service providers Stretch out classic peak season (high times for wildlife) Enhance the experience of European heritage and culture

12 12 Examples of tourist activities in Natura 2000 Wildlife watching (birds, whales & dolphins etc.) Hiking, canoeing Hunting tourism (cf. EU Sustainable Hunting Initiative) « Green schools », visits to interpretation centres Voluntary participation in protected area management measures (maintenance of trails and signs, habitat management) Niche markets for natural products (dairy products, non-timber forest products, honey etc.)

13 13 European Charter for sustainable tourism - EUROPARC Federation PAN Parks EDEN (see this Open Day conference) EC project on Branding of local products in Natura 2000 sites (2005) Support to awareness raising in Natura 2000 sites in the rural tourism sector (next presentation) Some existing activities on nature protection and sustainable economy/tourism

14 14 DG Environment of the European Commission is ready to engage in a dialogue with the tourism sector on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use! For more information, please consult:


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