About the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process
Natura 2000 is a network of nature conservation sites for the 21st century. Most importantly, Natura 2000 sites are home to many wonderful plants, animals and birds important for Europe’s biodiversity: however, in many sites, the habitats they depend on are threatened. The issues and problems affecting Natura 2000 habitats and species are often complex. They need to be proactively addressed and solutions can be found by working together.
The EU Biodiversity Strategy calls for significant improvements by 2020 in the conservation status of species and habitats protected under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. In 2012, the European Commission launched the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process to help meet this target. This multi-stakeholder cooperation process at the biogeographical level includes seminars, workshops and cooperation activities aimed at enhancing the effective implementation, management, monitoring, financing and reporting of the Natura 2000 network. The Process assists Member States and key stakeholders to manage Natura 2000 as a coherent ecological network.
- Collecting up-to-date information on threats and conservation needs for species and habitats.
- Exchanging experiences, case studies and best practices.
- Identifying common objectives, priorities and management actions.
- Developing new management insights, (cross-border) stakeholder cooperation frameworks, networks of specialists and site managers, etc.
- Promoting Natura 2000 management that integrates socio-economic objectives.
Characteristics and Organisation
The Biogeographical Process is guided and monitored by the Nature Directives Expert Group, and Steering Committees composed of representatives of the Member States, the European Commission, the European Environment Agency, the European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity, the European Habitats Forum and the Natura 2000 Users Forum.
The first three Natura 2000 seminars were the Boreal Seminar in May 2012, the Atlantic Seminar in December 2012, and the Alpine Seminar in November 2013. These seminars were all preceded by preparatory workshops. The outcomes are Seminar Reports, including ‘roadmaps’ for implementation. The objectives and results of the seminars are being further pursued through follow-up events and actions on the initiative of Member States, and supported by the European Commission.
Since 2014, Natura 2000 Seminars are being organised differently: they are hosted by a Member State or region, co-organised with the support of the European Commission, and involve Kick-off Natura 2000 Seminars and follow-up Natura 2000 Seminars.
The Kick-off Natura 2000 Seminars aim to draw initial conclusions and recommendations on specific issues for more in-depth cooperation, networking and cooperative actions during the Process. Each seminar is informed by a Pre-scoping Document presenting the selection of priority habitat types and species for urgent consideration, a Background Document with general information on conservation status and conservation needs of selected habitat types, and a Seminar Document with concrete proposals for discussions.
Kick-off Seminars are organised around parallel meetings of habitat working groups, plenary meetings, field visits and poster sessions. The result of each Kick-off Seminar is an agreed list of recommendations and actions for implementation from the Member States and expert networks. The actions are followed up by Member States, expert networks and other actors, and where appropriate further developed through networking and cooperation.
The first Kick-off Seminar was held in Thessaloniki, Greece, from 26 to 28 May 2014 for the Mediterranean region. A joint Kick-off Seminar for the Continental, Pannonian, Black Sea and Steppic regions took place in Luxembourg from 29 June to 1 July 2015. A Seminar for Marine regions (Atlantic, Baltic, Black Sea, Macaronesian and Mediterranean) was held in St Malo, France, from 5 to 7 May 2015. Finally, a Kick-off Seminar for the Macaronesian region is planned for spring 2016.
Later on, the follow-up Natura 2000 Seminars intend to monitor and evaluate the results of the actions agreed at the Kick-off Seminars and to identify and recommend further priorities and opportunities for continuous development of the Process. In the Boreal, Atlantic, Alpine and Mediterranean regions, Natura 2000 Seminars took place in 2016 and 2017.
The Networking Programme
In addition to the organisation of Natura 2000 Seminars in each biogeographical region, the Process promotes the exchange of knowledge and cooperation on Natura 2000 management beyond national borders, within and between biogeographical regions. This happens through the implementation of a Natura 2000 Biogeographical Networking Programme, which consists in the organisation of thematic networking events in each biogeographical region.
The Communication Platform and Newsletter
The Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process is supported by a web-based Natura 2000 Communication Platform where all actors involved in Natura 2000 management can find documents, useful links and an events calendar, and discuss or exchange information on conservation objectives, measures and their follow-up. A bimonthly newsletter provides an overview of recent Natura 2000 developments within each of the biogeographical regions.