Please read the full statement here: ELO position paper- EU 2030 Biodiversity strategy
To put biodiversity on the path to recovery by 2030, the EU Commission proposed to step up the protection and restoration of nature by improving and widening the network of protected areas and by developing an ambitious EU Nature Restoration Plan.
As privileged observers and custodians of Europe’s nature, landowners are particularly impacted by the progressive disappearance of numerous species and habitats in the area where they are living and working. Like every citizen, and even before reaching its climax in the public opinion, many land managers were conscious of the necessity of a transformative change towards a more nature-based land management. The imperative of making a living in low-margin land-based activities (farming and forestry) in an era of rapid technical change meant that it has taken time to realise the negative side effects of some activities. At this point of our economic development landowners are of course ready to reshape how they manage land to embrace nature-based approaches to a higher degree and to try and restore lost natural capital.
Biodiversity and Natura 2000
The debate in 2019 was focusing on the post-EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and increased contribution of the Nature Directives to the achievement of the goal of halting and reversing biodiversity loss. The new President of the Commission presented the New Green Deal and priority actions will be translated into EU legislation including the CAP. The publication of the Biodiversity Strategy was delayed until early 2020.
ELO actively participated in the debate during the Nature Directors meetings, GGBN (Coordination Group for Biodiversity and Nature), and related subgroups (MAES, IAS, new Forest and Nature etc). ELO highlighted that during and after the REFIT process, the legislation is in place and fit the purpose, additional layers are not necessary but better implementation is required, especially in order to encourage participation of the private sector where most of the Natura 2000 areas are located. There are already a sufficient number of indicators in place in the draft legislation for the CAP through which the environmental delivery of the new policy can be ascertained. ELO does not see the need to add to the already strong environmental conditionality, as some others have proposed, neither does ELO believe that all the problems relating to the environment can be solved through more constraints on agriculture, forestry and rural activities.
Farmers, foresters, rural entrepreneurs need to know what is expected from them in order to protect and promote biodiversity and what should be an appropriate environment to achieve this objective. ELO is currently working, through projects and initiatives, on best practices at various levels of decision making favouring the participation of private stakeholders to specific voluntary schemes and additional biodiversity friendly practices.
ELO also pushes for decisions at local level to be taken on a scientific basis, especially when dealing with species population, such as for large carnivores and advocates for better stakeholder consultation paving the way for a smooth implementation of the legislation in the long term, even if the cost of organising this consultations is considerable. For specific habitats, we are supportive of the results based payment going beyond the simple action/non action payment system. Nevertheless the process needs to be scientifically based, agreed with stakeholders and taking into account all the costs of implementation.
2020 will be an intensive year as biodiversity will also be influenced by the CAP and the "From the Farm to the Fork" Strategy.