Atlantic Region Natura 2000 Seminar 

 

Across the European Union, the Natura 2000 network of Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas now comprises over 26,000 sites with a total area of nearly 1 million km21. This network will make a major contribution towards improving the overall conservation status of habitats and species listed on the Habitats Directive and the status of birds listed on the Birds Directive, and will be complemented by measures taken in the wider environment.

 

To support the process of improving the conservation status of protected habitats and species the European Commission is organising a series of seminars in each EU biogeographic region. The Atlantic Natura 2000 seminar was held in Bergen in the Netherlands from 3-5 December 2012. The seminar was attended by JNCC’s European Advice programme leader, Jessamy Battersby and representatives from Scottish Natural Heritage, Countryside Council for Wales, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the Scottish Government and two non-governmental organisations.

 

The seminar focused on 20 habitats that occur in most Member States in the Atlantic region, which are in unfavourable conservation status, and have a relatively high proportion of the national resource in each Member State within Natura 2000 sites. The 20 habitats were brigaded into four groupings to make it easier to identify and discuss the main issues:

  • dunes and estuaries
  • wet and dry grasslands
  • heaths and bogs
  • rivers and lakes

 

The aim of the seminar was to identify actions to assist the effective management of the identified habitat groups and associated species, and where possible to identify Member States to take forward the actions. The UK led the heaths and bogs group, assisted by Ireland, France led wet and dry grasslands, the Netherlands led rivers and lakes, and Belgium and Germany led dunes and estuaries. JNCC coordinated UK input to the process.

 

One of the main issues of interest to the UK was the impacts of nitrogen deposition on protected sites and the implications for conservation status assessment. The UK provided a poster on this subject for the seminar, as well as one on peatland restoration in Northern Ireland, both of which were well received. The nitrogen deposition poster came in the top three in a good natured competition that was won by Ireland.

 

The whole seminar was a very positive event, facilitated by the very generous hospitality shown by the Netherlands. There was a great deal of discussion in the working groups, generating a large number of potential solutions to problems and potential actions to address these. The outcomes of the seminar will be compiled in a report  At the final plenary the UK, together with Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, agreed to jointly organise a knowledge exchange workshop on nitrogen deposition sometime in 2013, with the UK taking a lead.

 

The biogeographic process will continue with a seminar in the Alpine region, followed by one in the Mediterranean region. A communication platform is being set up on the European Commission website to facilitate ongoing communication and exchange of ideas within and between biogeographic regions.

 

[1] http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/barometer/index_en.htm

 

 

Contact File

 

Jessa Battersby

Head of European Intelligence and Advice

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866808

 

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