Another focus of the biodiversity strategy is Natura 2000, the EU’s network of environmentally protected areas, which is the largest such network in the world, made up of 2,500 sites amounting to 18% of EU territory.
The EU has already met the target agreed in the Nagoya Protocol, signed by the 193 signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2010, of protecting 17% of territory. But the EU has more work to do to meet the global target of protecting at least 10% of coastal and marine areas. Currently, just 4% of EU marine areas are part of the Natura 2000 network.
Environmental campaigners complain that national governments are not demonstrating sufficient commitment to the programme. They are opposing an increase in the budget for the Natura 2000 network in the EU’s 2014-20 spending cycle and they are failing to draw up management plans for sites in their territory. Some countries, such as Greece, Ireland and Spain, have drawn up management plans for only 5%-15% of their sites. By contrast, Sweden has developed plans for more than 95% of its sites.
Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch Liberal MEP who is drafting the Parliament’s report on the biodiversity strategy, has proposed that member states be given a deadline of 2015 to complete all their management plans.
Campaigners tend to make the same observation about the EU’s approach to biodiversity: the language used by member states would suggest they understand the extent and nature of the problem, but their actions do not match their words. Funding for the protection of Europe’s natural resources is not a high priority, and integration with other policies is poor. In the meantime, the impoverishment of Europe’s bio-diversity continues.
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