Target 1 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy states that
To halt the deterioration in the status of all species and habitats covered by EU nature legislation and achieve a significant and measurable improvement in their status [...]
Summary of EU progress on reaching Target 1 on nature conservation:
Significant progress has been made in targeted species protection and in establishing Natura 2000, the largest protected area network in the world. Also, legislation in EU Member States is now mostly in line with the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, providing a flexible and yet effective framework for nature conservation.
However, biodiversity is still declining, and restoration is too slow. Key reasons are gaps in the Natura 2000 network at sea, lack of active management and financing of sites, as well as insufficient enforcement of the EU Nature Directives on the ground. Destruction of sites and illegal killing of species is still widespread.
The 2013 reporting round under the Nature Directives will yield vital data for assessing whether the EU is on track to meet Target 1. The European Commission must continue to apply pressure on all EU Member States to ensure they report in a timely and comprehensive fashion, to facilitate the European Commission’s mid-term assessment.
Positive developments towards Target 1:
- There has been progress on certain species’ recovery through targeted management and protection measures, in particular through EU LIFE funding. Species Conservation works
- Natura 2000 designation on land has progressed significantly. Overview of EU progress on designation
- EU Member States, the Commission and stakeholders have recognised the need to step-up their efforts against the illegal killing of birds and have started to develop measures to improve enforcement on the ground. Illegal killing of Birds
- Significant progress has been made with stakeholder acceptance for EU nature legislation, e.g. through cooperation with hunters, ports, electricity grid operators. Renewables Grid Initiative
- New models for an integrated approach to financing Natura 2000 have been developed by the European Commission: National or regional Natura 2000 Financing plans (PAF), and LIFE Integrated Projects. Overview of EU progress on financing, Innovative conservation funding
Delays and missed opportunities towards Target 1:
- Many EU Member States are still lagging behind in implementing simple measures to address specific threats to species. Lead shot ban and enforcement, Reducing powerline impact on birds in Hungary
- Despite EU funded research, several countries have yet to declare their national marine SPA networks. There is an urgent need for both protection of nature and planning security for investors e.g. in off-shore wind energy.
- EU Member States have been very slow at developing systematic approaches in management planning and conservation objective setting. Natura 2000 management cases, Overview of EU progress on management
- EU Member States have not yet set site specific management prescriptions for farmers, foresters and other land managers in Natura 2000 sites thereby impeding the good maintenance and improvement of status of these sites.
- The insufficient designation of marine Natura 2000 is delaying the development of management plans for critical habitats and species. This is of vital importance especially in areas currently under threat of development.
- EU Member States have significant compliance problems with the EU Nature Directives on the ground; there is too little capacity within the European Commission to ensure compliance. Enforcement of site protection
Counterproductive developments towards Target 1:
- The European Commission’s budget proposal 2014-2020 is insufficient with regard to financing biodiversity measures and has not ensured coherence with the EU biodiversity targets especially in phasing out subsidies harmful to biodiversity. More on Funding for Nature
- Although LIFE, the EU fund dedicated to the environment, has proved to be cost-effective in achieving the EU’s biodiversity objectives, the European Commission has not proposed to increase it significantly. Cost-effectiveness of LIFE
- The reform and development of important EU sectoral policies supporting agriculture (CAP) and infrastructure development (Cohesion Policy) have not integrated the necessary safeguards to avoid harm to species and habitats. More on agriculture and the EU Biodiversity Strategy; more on ecosystem restoration and the EU Biodiversity Strategy
Milestones – what needs to be achieved by 2014:
- All relevant EU Member States completed designation of their marine Natura 2000 network.
- All EU Member States developed adequate plans with priority measures for the Natura 2000 network, including an integrated funding strategy combining EU-, national and private funding sources. Innovative conservation funding
- EU budget proposals are significantly improved to ensure sufficient financing of Natura 2000 through EU funds. The share of LIFE is increased to 1% of the EU budget. More on Funding for Nature
- The EU budget provides sufficient opportunities to EU Member States to finance 75% of Natura 2000 costs, including 15% through LIFE funds. More on Funding for Nature
- All EU Member States developed adequate management plans for all Natura 2000 sites. BirdLife position on management plans for SPAs
- The European Commission and EU Member States are significantly improving the enforcement of the EU Nature Directives on the ground, for example through the development of harmonised and independent inspections, a training initiative for judges, public prosecutors and administrations.