EU Biodiversity and Nature Directors’ Meeting Report


The EU Biodiversity and Nature Directors’ Meeting under the Irish EU Presidency took place during 2-3 May in Dublin and was attended by FACE’s Nature Policy Manager Gabor von Bethlenfalvy and David Scallan of the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC), FACE-Ireland.

The discussions during the session open to stakeholder representatives, focused on the financing on biodiversity and nature the interface between science and policy and on nature conservation and cultural concerns.

On behalf of the Natura 2000 User Forum (a group of EU land management and user NGOs), FACE coordinated a joint presentation which elaborated on all aspects of the agenda. For instance:


The Forum stresses the need for society to recognise the multiple goods and services which sustainable land management provides. Only economically viable forest and farming sectors are able to respond to the increasing demands for ecosystem services. PES has the potential to steer new mechanisms for promoting and a better use of economic instruments to foster the provision of ecosystem services, but up to now it lacks concrete actions and convincing results on the ground. PES should be elaborated and implemented at regional and local level, through tailored mechanisms, which address and apply to specific conditions, recognising that the success of financing mechanisms depends on their proper design and in particular the involvement of those who own and manage the ecosystems.


The economic validation of ecosystem services is certainly important, as it attracts wider public and political attention and stimulates new debates and policy initiative (e.g. the economic value of Natura 2000 network is estimated at 200-300 billion € per year). However, these economic benefits of Natura 2000 do not always translate into benefits to the owners, managers and users on the ground; they may even face increasing costs, forgone income and restrictions. This needs to be addressed, matching the benefits local managers provide to society.


Based on the FACE intervention at the Workshop EU Action on Large Carnivores, 25 January, the Forum stresses that the management of large carnivores should be based on best available knowledge about their populations as well as taking fully into account the human dimension. The EU management objective should be the long-term viability of resilient populations of large carnivores and their acceptance. As well as a biological carrying capacity, there must be a social and economic carrying capacity for large carnivores. Local people must be well informed of and allowed to participate in the management process. More coordination on a population level and more local level influence can be achieved simultaneously and do not contradict each other.


Based on the FACE written submission to the Commission on Natura 2000 and forests, the Forum highlighted that Europe is the most densely populated continent and the landscapes are closely intertwined with human activities. Protected areas such as Natura 2000 sites need to be integrated into the wider multi-functional landscape in order to provide for ecological coherence and connectivity as well as to take into account socio-economic and socio-cultural interests. The ‘non-intervention’ concept in the wilderness debate lacks consideration for management needs for land uses outside such areas (e.g. game damages to agriculture and forestry, risk of diseases, predation by generalist predator species on other wildlife). It is important that the land managers and owners should not be disadvantaged due to their proximity to wilderness areas. The unnecessary ban of activities (including forestry activities, mushroom picking, hunting, etc.), within these areas when they have no negative impact on Natura 2000 are not acceptable.

The next EU Biodiversity and Nature Directors’ Meeting will be held under the Lithuanian Presidency in December, in Vilnius. Lithuania will make Large Carnivores a priority topic at their meeting.