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8 July 2013

Alpine Biogeographic Process launched

On June 12–14 CEEweb representatives participated in the preparatory workshop of the Alpine biogeographic region, which took place in Graz, Austria.

The ‘Biogeographic Process’ is an EU level Natura 2000 process that has been initiated in 2011. The process aims to assist Member States in managing Natura 2000 as a coherent ecological network, whilst exchanging experience and best practice, addressing objectives and priorities and enhancing cooperation and synergies. It also focuses on ensuring that habitats also achieve a level of favourable conservation status outside Natura 2000 site boundaries, and on addressing the major threats that occur there. CEEweb was involved into the first process focusing on the Boreal region last year. Read more about these past activities.

The workshop included field visits, presentations and group work. During the workshop it became obvious that there is immense possibilities for different NGOs and state activities. However, the seminar is an open process and the results of it will depend mainly on bottom up activities of the member states and the NGO sector.

NGO Umweltdachverband coordinated NGO input to the Alpine workshop. A group of European NGOs participated in preparations and in the workshop itself, including CEEweb and its member organizations, in particular Naturalists Club Poland, Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation and Milvus Group from Romania. NGOs commented the draft background document and collected case studies. In the course of strategic discussions prior to the workshop, NGOs identified common goals, key issues to be raised, cross-cutting issues and expected outcomes.

Stefan Avramov of the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation reports about some disappointments he felt at the meeting: “In contrast with the Birds Directive enforcement, where BirdLife was very active proposing IBAs as SPA, priority species action plans and bird status evaluations, currently there is no similar well-coordinated European NGO initiative. I also doubt that the majority of the member states are interested to participate actively in the process.”

There was a discussion on non-intervention forest management and wilderness in the forest working group with representatives of Germany and Austria resisting the idea. Following the discussion, it was proposed to hold a special workshop on this issue in the autumn before the Alpine Seminar. Afterwards the next step in the process will be the Alpine Seminar, which will take place on 25–26 November 2013, also in Graz.

A communication platform for the New Biogeographical Process was launched during the Alpine workshop: www.natura2000communicationplatform.eu. All materials of the Biogeographical process can be accessed from here >>

Stefan Avramov and Ildikó Arany