The EU Biodiversity Strategy calls for significant improvements in the conservation status of species and habitats protected under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives by 2020. To help meeting this target, the European Commission launched in 2012 the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process, a multi-stakeholders' co-operation process at the biogeographical level, including seminars, workshops and cooperation activities to enhance effective implementation, management, monitoring, financing and reporting of the Natura 2000 network.
The Biogeographical process is guided and monitored by an Expert group on Natura 2000 management and Steering Committees, composed of representatives of the Member States, the European Commission, the European Environmental Agency, the European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity, the European Habitats Forum and the Natura 2000 Users Forum.
The three first 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 now further pursued through follow-up events and actions at the initiative of Member States and supported by the European Commission.
Since 2014 Natura 2000 Seminars are being organized differently: they are hosted by a Member State or region, co-organised with the support of the European Commission and involve the so-called 'Kick-off' Natura 2000 Seminar and Review Natura 2000 Seminars.
The 'Kick-off' Natura 2000 Seminar has the aim to draw initial conclusions and recommendations on specific issues for more in-depth cooperation, networking and cooperative actions during the process. Each such 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 lists 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 Review Natura 2000 seminars intend to monitor and evaluate the results of the actions agreed at the kick-off seminars actions and to identify and recommend further priorities and opportunities for continuous development of the process. First review seminars for the Boreal and Atlantic region are planned for late 2016.
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 Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process is supported by a web-based Natura 2000 Communication Platform where all actors involved in management on Natura 2000 can find documents, useful links an events' calendar, 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.