Best Practices

Good practices in managing Natura 2000 sites

As the selection of sites for the Natura 2000 Network nears completion, attention is increasingly focused on the issue of management in accordance with the provisions of Article 6 of the Habitats Directive. With over 20,000 sites in the Natura 2000 Network, covering almost a fifth of the EU territory, the prospect may seem rather daunting at first. Not only do the ecological requirements of the species and habitats vary significantly from one to another, but the proposed management options must also take account of economic, social and cultural requirements of the area concerned as well as their regional and local characteristics.

Considering that the majority of Natura 2000 sites are likely to be in private ownership and used for purposes other than nature conservation, it is also essential that the stakeholder groups concerned are actively involved in finding practical solutions for the long term management of their sites.

The aim is not to stop economic activities altogether, but rather to set the parameters by which these can take place whilst maintaining (or restoring) the rare species and habitats present at a favourable conservation status. Indeed, many sites in Natura 2000 are valuable precisely because of the way they have been managed up to now and it will be important to ensure that these sorts of activities (eg extensive farming) can continue into the future.

Thus, defining the ecological requirements of a species or habitat is only part of the equation - equally important is the process of working with stakeholders to find ways of implementing these provisions in order to achieve sustainable long term results.

FORESTRY - Good management practices for Natura 2000

The range of actions undertaken for forests is almost as diverse as the habitat types themselves. Many involve initial one-off restoration actions in order to bring the forest back up to its original high conservation state. Most also develop management plans in close collaboration with local stakeholders and forest authorities. Some go on to try out innovative ways of bringing together conservation with economic activities. Yet others focus instead on wildlife management issues, for instance, creating suitable habitats and corridors for woodland species such as bears and grouse.

The following illustrate some particularly successful examples

1. Grouse management in the Black forest, Germany
2. Involving private land owners in restoring Atlantic oakwoods in Scotland
3. Restoration of deciduous forest in Söderåsen National Park, Sweden
4. Conservation of endangered tree species in the Apenines, Italy
5. Integrated management of natural forests in the Flemish Ardennes Belgium