The closing conference of the LIFE+ 3WATER project took place in Brussels on 10 December 2013 with the participation of IUCN. The project is a successful example of close cooperation between private landowners, land users, nature organizations, communities, and national and European authorities.
Aside from those protected areas that are managed by governments, many others are owned or managed by private individuals, companies, organizations, communities and faith groups. In Europe, 75% of the land is privately owned.
Private-public partnerships are essential to ensure the long-term involvement of all stakeholders in the management not only of Natura 2000 sites, but also in other areas of particular environmental interest. There is great need to engage both land owners and the private sector and consequently to explore possibilities for integrating their efforts in enhancing landscape resilience and connectivity.
The 3WATER project aimed at restoring and conserving specific habitat types and species of Community Importance in the Natura 2000 area of Midden Limburg, Belgium, by fostering cooperation between private and public actors. Thanks to this innovative approach, special attention was given to the synergy between ecology, education and economy. This balanced approach is a sustainable basis for further development and prosperity in the area.
Luc Bas, Director of the IUCN European Representative Office intervened at the event: “Private landowners play an important role in conservation actions, especially as they own the majority of land in Europe. They are therefore important partners for us.”
The conference developed through four panels during which the results, obstacles, successes and future expectations of the project were discussed. The future of participation of private landowners in the management of species and habitats in Natura 2000 areas was also addressed.
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