The need for healthy ecosystems is now widely recognised. This is not only necessary if we are to halt the loss of biodiversity across Europe, but it will also contribute to achieving a wider range of goals, including adaptation to climate change and the maintenance of ecosystem services such as clean water, productive soils and attractive recreational areas.
An essential condition for healthy ecosystems is the maintenance of ecological coherence. That is to say, it is vital to ensure that the functional elements of ecosystems can continue to interact, both between themselves and with their physical environment. However, ecosystems and habitats throughout Europe are becoming increasingly fragmented. This presents us with a major challenge.
Many policy initiatives are already playing a role in tackling this issue. For example, Natura 2000 is establishing an EU-wide representative system of legally protected areas, progress is being made in integrating biodiversity objectives into other policy sectors, and programmes specifically aimed at strengthening ecological coherence are underway in many European countries. However, given the scale of the challenge, there is clearly a need to assess the seriousness of the threats, the effectiveness of the responses taken to date and the need for further action in an EU perspective.
Purpose of workshop
Against this background, the main aims of the workshop were to determine an appropriate Community response to these developments and to identify the actions that would be most effective at EU level. The aim is to build on the experiences of existing initiatives across Europe by:
• reviewing the results of initiatives in different parts of Europe that aim to improve ecological connectivity
• assessing the need for strengthening the coherence of the Natura 2000 network
• considering how ecological coherence can be integrated into other policy sectors.
The conclusions will contribute to further thinking on how a Green Infrastructure for the European Union could be shaped and built.
The workshop was intended for policymakers, researchers, NGOs and other stakeholders who are involved in organisations, programmes and activities that are related to ecological coherence. These will encompass sectors such as biodiversity conservation, climate change, agriculture, transport infrastructure, territorial development and spatial planning. It is expected that all participants will make an active contribution to the discussions.
The workshop addressed the following topics:
• Introduction to the issues
• Ongoing initiatives in the Member States in the field of green infrastructure
• Strengthening the coherence of Natura 2000
• Land use and ecological coherence
• Integrating green infrastructure into other sectors
• Priorities for building a green infrastructure at EU level
The conference proceedings and powerpoint presentations are available from here
A background document of current Green infrastructure initiatives across Europe can be downloaded from here