UN conference hails Natura 2000 the world's most ambitious nature protection system
Merkel at CBD COP9: Germany committed to Natura 2000
Bonn/Brussels May 29, 2008 – Today at the 9th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Bonn (Germany), special attention was paid to the Natura 2000 network, one of the greatest achievements of EU environmental policy. This network of more than 26,000 protected areas is Europe’s main contribution to the CBD’s efforts to halt global loss of biodiversity. Speaking in front of government and NGO representatives from around the world, Ahmed Djoghlaf, the Executive Secretary of the CBD, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas and the Ministers of Environment of Slovenia and Germany stressed the unprecedented scale, the importance, but also the challenges of implementing Natura 2000, especially in a densely populated continent like Europe.
Although not fully implemented yet, Natura 2000 has already helped to slow down or even reverse the decline of certain bird species. At the same time it preserves Europe’s most characteristic landscapes and stabilises ecosystems. Human well-being and all economic development depend on a healthy environment. In times of climate change with more and more floods and droughts the “buffer” provided by natural areas is more important than ever.
Nevertheless, the overall loss of biodiversity continues in Europe. This is partly because of unsustainable EU policies like on agriculture or fisheries, but also because Natura 2000 still lacks adequate financing and proper implementation on the ground.
Recent doubts about Germany’s commitment to Natura 2000 were dispelled by Chancellor Angela Merkel in a speech at CBD COP9 on Wednesday: “We need to build on our previous efforts to implement Natura 2000, to achieve our ambitious European target to stop the decline of biodiversity by 2010”. This was highly welcomed by BirdLife and its German Partner NABU.
Last year, some German regions had asked for a weakening of biodiversity protection rules in the EU.
"If we miss the EU target of stopping the loss of biodiversity in Europe by 2010, even more ambitious measures will be needed" —Dr Clairie Papazoglou, Regional Director of BirdLife International, European Division
“Unfortunately there are still people around who complain about Natura 2000 and who believe economic profit can be made on the expenses of the environment. This is the thinking of the past.” said Dr. Clairie Papazoglou, Regional Director of the European Division at BirdLife International in Brussels. “Natura 2000 is not about excluding people – on the contrary, sustainable economic activities are encouraged and necessary in many of these areas.”
“However, If we miss the EU target of stopping the loss of biodiversity in Europe by 2010, even more ambitious measures will be needed,” stressed Papazoglou.
The economic value of ecosystems and biodiversity is increasingly in the focus of the international debate. In a recent Eurobarometer poll, 75% of the citizens surveyed agreed that Europe’s economy will be poorer as a result of biodiversity loss.
This was also strongly stressed at the Bonn Conference where the preliminary findings of the study “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity” were presented today. According to the findings, summarized in this report, the direct economic benefits generated by the worlds’ protected areas are worth more than $US 5,000 billion annually. The report clearly indicates that it is much cheaper to address ecosystem breakdown now, than in the future, when economic losses will have piled up. BirdLife hopes that this study, lead by the renowned economist Pavan Sukhdev, will have a similar “wake-up effect” as the famous “Stern” report had on the issue of climate change.