Natura 2000 is an EU success story – it is the largest network of nature protected areas in the world and contributes to protecting Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.
On 25 September, IUCN, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), WWF and EUROPARC organised an event at the European Parliament in Brussels to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Habitats Directive and the success story of Natura 2000, but also to remind Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) that adequate resources are needed to continue protecting nature and maintaining the network.
It is estimated that managing the Natura 2000 network throughout Europe costs 5.8 billion Euro per year. This means that with only €3 cents per day, per EU citizen the European Union can secure the huge benefits we get from nature’s services – estimated between €200-300 billion per year.
At a time of a crucial voting in the European Parliament, MEPs have a great responsibility for ensuring that the policies currently under review integrate nature and Natura 2000. The future EU Budget 2014-2020 can contribute decisively to provide the funds for Natura 2000 and ensure that the network continues to protect nature and deliver its benefits and services.
The event was hosted by the Rapporteur on Biodiversity at the European Parliament, MEP Gerben Jan Gerbrandy.
Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, explains the Commission’s proposal on how to integrate nature into the new EU Budget and highlights that when it comes to nature there are no quick fixes.
MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Rapporteur on Biodiversity at the European Parliament, underlines the timeliness of the event which takes place just before MEPs are asked to vote on important EU policies with crucial implications for nature conservation.
MEP Alyn Smith, Member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Parliament, emphasizes the connection between agriculture and the environment which cannot be tackled separately by EU policies.
Jeremy Wates, Secretary General European Environmental Bureau, talks about the importance of funding for environmental protection and the concrete benefits that this brings to people, in particular the LIFE funding which needs to be increased.
Tony Long, Director WWF European Policy Office, highlights the need for nature to be put in the economic calculus of our societies and the benefits which this integration would bring to us.
Hans Friederich, IUCN Regional Director for Europe, concludes the event by stressing the crucial need for funds to continue protecting nature if we are to reach the 2020 EU biodiversity target.