Forest owners’ involvement is a prerequisite for reaching the new EU Biodiversity Strategy targets for protected areas
“A new beginning for people and nature” was the theme of the EU Green Week 2020 organised on 20 – 22 October. The Week included several events with concerns on forests, especially from the ecological perspective. CEPF was invited to speak at the high-level conference session focusing on the new EU Biodiversity Strategy targets for protected areas. During the session the speakers shared their perspectives about current challenges and opportunities for reaching these targets, and about the importance of the targets for biodiversity and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Nicola Notaro, Head of the Nature Protection Unit, DG ENV, started the event by presenting the Commission’s draft technical note on criteria and guidance for the designation of protected areas.

Following first reflexions from Slovak representative’s Katarina Butkovská, CEPF Policy Advisor Hélène Koch laid out the initial CEPF reaction to the Commission’s draft technical note. Ms Koch regretted that the current draft document does not refer to forest owners, a core element in this discussion according to her. She highlighted the proper involvement of forest owners since the designation process is a prerequisite for successful and cost-effective implementation of conservation objectives in protected forests. In addition, the designation process should include concrete considerations for financial support for forest owners and respect their ownership rights, she continued.

Regarding to identification and mapping the primary and old-growth forests that will be strictly protected, Ms Koch called for the work to be done by the Member States in close cooperation with national and regional forest owners’ representatives. In terms of climate change, she stressed that forest owners welcome the fact that the management of strictly protected areas includes essential activities such as prevention and combat of fires, management of invasive species, or disease controls, which is a key element when the risk of natural disturbances is increasing due to climate change, she stated.

Alberto Arroyo Schnell, Senior Policy Manager, IUCN European Regional Office, shared Ms Koch’s views on the need to involve the forest owners right from the beginning. According to Mr Notaro, the criteria and designation of protected areas should be based on science and made from the ecological point of view but he also added that stakeholders are and will be consulted and ensured that the interest of stakeholders and foresters is very present for the Commission.

Please find all the EU Green Week recordings here.