Connecting knowledge of nature and decision-makers for environmentally friendly development

Involving partners from Belgium, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and the UK, the BID-REX project aims to enhance conservation of natural heritage and support sustainable economic growth at regional and European level. It has undertaken an interactive interregional learning process to link biodiversity information and conservation decision-making. Implementation of plans developed during the process will inform public policy.

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The Nyctlaus leisleri bat: better-informed environmental decisions should improve its conservation prospects ©David Guixé The Nyctlaus leisleri bat: better-informed environmental decisions should improve its conservation prospects ©David Guixé

" We bring ideas from other European regions to work together better, with the aim of achieving efficient conservation of the environment. "

Jean-Yves Paquet, Natagora conservation organisation, Wallonia Region, Belgium

The BID-REX learning process was structured around conferences, workshops and visits to explore and exchange best practices. Thematic workshops were the cornerstone of the process.

Knowledge exchange on good practices and discussion of regional challenges and potential solutions were based on the experience and background of each partner and local group. Coverage of topics at events followed a clearly defined plan, starting from regional needs, before going through tools and methodologies, and ending with impacts on policies.

Relevant information for robust strategies

Matching conservation priorities with regional development policies, while taking account of the availability of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) support, is crucial for effective European and regional biodiversity conservation strategies. However, accurate identification of priorities needs consistent, relevant and structured biodiversity information.

BID-REX aims to help provide decision-makers with appropriate information to improve regional development policies and increase the impact of ERDF allocations on the preservation of Europe’s natural heritage. Each participating region addresses a different policy instrument.

In the case of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Norfolk in the UK and Hungary’s North Great Plain region, the instruments are axes of ERDF operational programmes focusing on environmental protection and resource efficiency. For Belgium’s Wallonia Region, Marche in Italy and Slovenia, they are the Regional Policy Statement for Wallonia, the Marche Regional Ecological Network and the regulation on the Ljubljana Marshes Nature Park.

Workshops, meetings and action plans

Workshops held during the three-year learning process covered subjects including decision makers’ information needs, matching information to needs, improving data flows and developing plans for each region. Technical documents from the workshops were published to broaden the impact of the outcomes beyond the project partnership.

Best practices identified during the process – including a cartography of habitats in Catalonia and a nature information system and ecosystem services assessment from the Basque Country – were uploaded to the project website and a dedicated database.

Regular meetings were organised with local groups to identify useful tools for inclusion in the plans. To be implemented over a two-year period and monitored by the partners, the plans have been prepared and contain details of how lessons learnt from the workshops could be applied to improve policy instruments.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “BID-REX - From Biodiversity Data to Decisions: enhancing natural value through improved regional development policies” is EUR 1 609 294, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 1 367 899 through the “INTERREG EUROPE” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Environment and resource efficiency”.

Draft date