CINEA project manager Sylvia Barova last week gave a keynote speech on our Bringing nature back through LIFE study at the 3rd edition of the ESP Europe Regional Conference.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Ecosystem Services Science, Policy and Practice in the face of Global Changes’. Topics on the agenda included nature-based solutions, land-use planning, ecosystem services modelling and applications, green and blue infrastructure, and biodiversity protection.
Presenting the study, Sylvia said that the 2020 EU State of Nature Report revealed that many of our habitats and species are in critical decline. She gave reason for hope though, saying that we can restore and repair nature and this is what the LIFE programme has been doing since 1992.
LIFE has been saving endangered EU habitats and species, expanding the Natura 2000 network, boosting the implementation of EU nature legislation, removing Invasive Alien Species, combating illegal practices and raising awareness, among other actions.
Thanks to LIFE, some 170 000 hectares of mires in the UK have been restored as well as 40% of Belgium's peatlands, while 25% of Estonia’s alvar grassland is in much better shape. Rare habitats like Macaronesian laurel forests and Western taïga are back. And seagrass beds, dynamic dune systems, and their associated species have recovered.
On species, LIFE has targeted 64 species of freshwater fish - six of these now have a better status on a European scale. LIFE has also helped to improve the conservation status of more than 200 European bird species. Today, the Bearded vulture, the Azores bullfinch, and Aquatic warbler are back from the brink of extinction.
Overall, LIFE has co-funded conservation actions in more than 6 000 Natura 2000 sites. And it has doubled the size of the marine Natura 2000 network over the past five years.
As for the future, LIFE will continue to support the implementation of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, the Invasive Alien Species Regulation and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. And there will be bigger projects to achieve a higher impact. Also, work will focus on the most endangered species and habitats including those from the EU Red Lists.
Pushed for time? Read our bite-size Bringing nature back through LIFE brochure
Image: LIFE12 BIO/AT/000143/P. Przesang
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