Opened by Commissioner Vella, the purpose of the Conference was to present and to discuss the Action Plan which is an important element of the EU's strategy to halt biodiversity loss and plays a key role in protecting biodiversity. The Action Plan aims to improve implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives and to address the identified shortcomings, based on the findings of the Fitness Check of the EU Nature Directives.
Speaking at the event, Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said "Biodiversity is a pre-condition for agriculture. Without it, there is no food so we need to safeguard it. But in order to really be effective, funds need to be increased and red tape and bureaucracy cut. We need an integrated approach vis a vis reaching our biodiversity targets and preventing a negative socioeconomic impact. We also need to move away from rigid implementation of the Directives and ensure that there is sufficient flexibility when implementing them, especially when it comes to large carnivores such as wolves and their impact on sheep farmers".
Emma Berglund, Secretary-General of CEPF said "We hope that the Natura 2000 Action Plan can pave the way to solve the implementation challenges of the Natura Directives. The process needs to involve those who are responsible for the work on the ground. We therefore welcome any action that implies the necessary involvement of forest owners who are crucial partners for implementation of the Natura 2000 network. When it comes to funding, the Action Plan is meant to be for nature, people and the economy, so it is important to adequately compensate forest owners for their costs in order not to further weaken the economies of rural areas. We also need to raise awareness of the people behind the success of forests. What is needed is a positive recognition of what forest owners are already doing to counter biodiversity loss and provide ecosystem services".
Concluding, Thierry de l'Escaille, Secretary-General of ELO said "The Commissions' proposal to enhance the use of PAFs in order to better focus the funds, be it through the agricultural programmes, the regional programmes or others, is correct in theory, but experience has shown us difficulties with this approach. The Commission consequently needs to show us how these difficulties can be overcome in the current framework and in the next MFF. Finally, we need to get people living in the cities to understand and learn to respect the countryside".
For further information, please contact:
Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF)
Policy advisor - Franz Thoma, firstname.lastname@example.org