Implementing the European biodiversity strategy
The 10th meeting of the European Network of Heads of Nature Conservation Agencies (ENCA-Network) took place in Gumpolskirchen, Austria, from 22 to 24 April 2012. The venue was chosen as it is one of the entry points to the Wienerwald Biosphere Reserve, a forest on the outskirts of Vienna.
The ENCA-Network unites the European agencies responsible for the management of natural areas and biodiversity in Europe. Many of its members are State and Government Agency Members of IUCN, among others the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic and the State Institute for Nature Protection of Croatia.
The discussions of the ENCA-Network focus on actual management challenges, rather than on general policy direction. Willy Geiger, IUCN appointed Councillor from Switzerland, confirmed that: “ENCA is a valuable network of landscape management practitioners and the information exchange on lessons learned, national approaches and field site experiences is very useful for the work of the Swiss Federal Agency for the Environment”. The meeting in Austria discussed the implementation of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy, and what that means for practical nature conservation.
IUCN Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Friederich, gave a presentation about Target 6 of the EU Strategy. “By 2020 the EU has stepped up its contribution to averting global biodiversity loss”, linking the 6 targets of the EU Strategy and the 20 Aichi targets of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. He also highlighted that pan-Europe, which includes European countries beyond the EU borders, has its own strategic objectives and management arrangements for nature conservation, referring to the draft Pan-European Biodiversity Strategy 2020 produced by UNEP. Dr Friederich stressed: “Europe overseas, where the richest biodiversity in Europe is found, but also the highest vulnerability to climate change, require also special attention and action when it comes to managing and protecting their natural heritage”.
The European Commission provided insights on the various EU funding mechanisms for biodiversity. It was explained that the recently approved Common Strategic Framework replaces the current separate sets of strategic guidelines for cohesion policy, rural development policy and fisheries and maritime policy and provides a single source of guidance for all five future Funds (European Regional Development Funds, European Social Fund, Cohesion Fund, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and European Marine and Fisheries Fund). This will strengthen the integration of EU policies and ensure greater impact for citizens and businesses on the ground.
Other presentations focused on monitoring changes in biodiversity using remote sensing and on the challenges of avoiding, containing, managing and eradicating invasive alien species.
The hosts of the meeting, the Austrian Environment Agency provided details about the management of the Wienerwald Biosphere Reserve, the development of its National Biodiversity Strategy and the Austrian approach to managing nature. The group visited the Wienerwald and discussed on-site the challenges of landscape restoration, managed changes in tree cover and the transition from vineyards into natural habitats.
The next ENCA-Network meeting will take place in Brussels in September 2012 and will focus on mainstreaming biodiversity.