Improving standards for setting conservation objectives
By Caroline Jacobsson, Fri, 14/09/2012 - 10:25
At the end of August, BirdLife Europe participated in the 3rd European Congress of Conservation Biology, in Glasgow, UK. The conference was organised by the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB-Europe) and aimed at increasing the success of conservation efforts by facilitating communications between researchers, policy makers and conservationists. A special focus was put on the participation of students and early career researchers to bring about rejuvenation in the area of conservation. BirdLife Europe organised a workshop entitled “Setting conservation objectives for birds: methods and criteria to ensure minimum acceptable standards”. Every six years, EU Member States must report to the European Commission on the conservation status of species and habitats covered by the Habitats Directive, which together with the Birds Directive forms the cornerstone of Europe's nature conservation policy. The results of the first round of reporting in 2007 revealed that only 17% of species and habitats were in ‘favourable conservation status’ at EU level. However, this assessment relied on national assessments made by Member States, using Favourable Reference Values (FRVs) that each country established independently. FRVs are threshold values for the key parameters (e.g. range and population size) that are used to evaluate conservation status. Ian Burfield, BirdLife's European Science and Data Manager, stated “FRVs should be based purely on scientific grounds, but in 2007 many were set using ‘expert judgement’, while others were not set at all. The foundations of some of the resulting assessments are thus rather shaky.” Through its Birds & Habitats Directives Task Force, BirdLife has been reviewing progress and developing broad guidelines to level the playing field and ensure that minimum standards are applied across the EU and beyond. BirdLife Italy - LIPU was represented at the conference by Claudio Celada, Director of Conservation. BirdLife Europe was also represented at the conference by Sophie Herbert, EU Nature Policy Officer and Trees Robijns, EU Agriculture & Bioenergy Policy Officer. Their participation was co-funded by the Belgian AEF – Agence francophone pour l’éducation et la formation tout au long de la vie (the Belgian Francophone Agency for education and lifelong learning), which provided financial support within the framework of the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) – Grundtvig subprogramme – Visits and exchanges for adult education staff.