CEEweb Newsletter – 2014 Issue 2
Contribution to EU policies
Supporting biodiversity proofing of Cohesion Policy funds
Pushing for EU focus on sustainability
A conference for greener future of EU countryside
CEEweb represented the region at EU Business and Biodiversity Conference
Natura 2000 Management Workshop in Budapest
Resource Cap Coalition
Advocating worldwide for resource use caps
News from international conventions
CBD COP12: Some successes, but no real progress
Tourism Strategy adopted by the Carpathian Convention
Watch, listen, learn, celebrate
Creative contests to celebrate nature
Highlights from projects starting in 2015
Visegrad countries help preserve food security in the Balkans
Innovative project on wetland restoration
News from members and partners
NGO in Bulgaria prepares action plans for Capercaillie and Woodpeckers
25 years of turning Danube to River of Cooperation
Macedonian national park endangered by dam construction plans
Wild plants starring at online toolbox
CEEweb celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. During these two decades, dedicated to saving natural heritage in Central and Eastern Europe, we built a network with NGOs from more than 20 countries that is 60 organisations strong, all devoted to conserving biodiversity in our region. We contributed to the development of major national, regional, EU and international conservation and environmental policies and processes with the aim to save species, diverse landscapes and rich ecosystems through the promotion of sustainable development.
This year, we wanted to remain truthful to our heritage and doubled our efforts in mainstreaming nature. Therefore, we strived to enhance Natura 2000 management’s effectiveness, to integrate Green Infrastructure to other policies, to green agriculture, to involve business and tourism sectors for more sustainable use of our natural capital and to achieve overall sustainability in related policies. We also reached out for hundreds of thousands of people with our awareness-raising contests to make them act for nature. Last but not least, we continued on building a more coherent network and deepened our cooperation because of our firm belief that nature will need a joint help from all of us – more than ever.
Achieving green and sustainable future will require immense amount of efforts, focus and cooperation. According to CEEweb’s Strategy for 2015-2020, the main directions of the CEEweb during the next five years will be sustainable resource use, sustainable land use and management, and site and species conservation management. Within these areas, CEEweb will continue providing expert opinions, participation and representation of CEE views, carrying out advocacy work and capacity building. In the upcoming years, we will also strive for better collaboration within and outside of the civil sector with the aim of finding more support for nature.
On behalf of CEEweb for Biodiversity, I wish you a very merry Christmas and a more biodiversity rich 2015 – we will certainly do our best to make it like that.
General Secretary of CEEweb for Biodiversity
Contribution to EU policies
“All EU funded projects shall contribute to decreasing total environmental pressure and thus conserving biodiversity”, states Klára Hajdu, Senior Policy Advisor at CEEweb when presenting the major principle that CEEweb is calling for within a process of biodiversity proofing of EU Cohesion Policy funds.
Such principle is essential because cohesion funds clearly shape the landscapes of Member States. Landscape shaping here is not only figurative, but also literal, if we consider the countless infrastructure projects ranging from road constructions through river channelisation to establishing sewage treatment plants. Unfortunately, previous examples show that these projects often harm biodiversity, because the programming and implementation of these policies lack a strategic approach that embraces environment and biodiversity at national level.
Thus CEEweb together with its members is working on a guidance document on the integration of biodiversity into the implementation cycle of Cohesion Policy funds. The document builds on the various stakeholder experiences that were shared at an international conference and workshop in November.
CEEweb called for paradigm shift in environmental and resource use policies during the public consultation on the Europe 2020 Strategy. The consultation will contribute to the mid-term review of the strategy, scheduled for 2015. Europe 2020 is the European Union’s ten-year growth and jobs strategy that was launched in 2010 for overcoming the economical crisis and creating the conditions for a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for Europe by 2020.
During the consultation CEEweb suggested that the review of the Europe 2020 strategy should ensure that significant role is given to the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS) in shaping EU’s policy directions. Alternatively, the Europe 2020 Strategy itself could be formulated in a way, that it fulfils the purposes of the EU SDS.
Another point made by CEEweb related to the fact that relative decoupling and output side regulations do not solve our current environmental and resource use related problems, i.e. despite the increase in resource use efficiency, the overall consumption is increasing. Hence, absolute decoupling of resource use on input side is needed. Therefore, binding efficiency policies should be accompanied by targets on capping the use of the concerned resource.
“Real substance will indeed be pointed out from a green perspective on behalf of DG Environment and ambitions are still kept to green the Rural Development Programmes. The process is on-going and events like this largely contribute to receiving feedbacks from a wider range of stakeholders”, said Karl Falkenberg, Director General at Directorate General for Environment of the European Commission during a joint conference of CEEweb, BirdLife Europe, EEB and Fundatia Adept in September.
The aim of the conference that attracted almost 150 participants was the discussion on Rural Development Programmes (RDPs), in particular the state of play, opportunities and cooperation options. The conference provided a general update on where we stand in terms of Pillar 2 of the Common Agriculture Policy, an update on how the partnership principle was implemented while compiling of the programmes, and how the planned RDPs will and should deliver on various priorities, such as energy efficiency, restoration of ecosystems, and cooperation and innovation measures.
CEEweb, in cooperation with other NGOs both at national and EU level, has been playing an active role to green the RDPs. We sincerely hope our positions backed up by the needs of citizens for a healthier and greener rural areas are reflected in the new documents, which decide the future six years of our countryside and people.
The first Annual European Business and Biodiversity Conference was organised by the European Commission on November 21, 2014 in Brussels. The meeting was attended by more than 100 participants, mostly from the private sector. Besides Karmenu Vella, the new Environment Commissioner, several CEOs of major European multinationals gave their views on the future of integrating natural capital into business accounting frameworks, on business’s contribution to green infrastructure and ecological restoration, as well as innovative financing mechanisms.
CEEweb is the only CEE member of the European Commission’s Business and Biodiversity Platform. Sarolta Tripolszky was the only CEE speaker in the event. She has presented the recent CEEweb Guidelines on Business and NGO cooperation finalised by CEEweb and its members recently. The guidelines are available in English, Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovakian.
There seemed to be agreement between participants that business strongly depends on nature and thus need to contribute to its protection. However, it was also obvious that the participants represent a minority (the forerunners) but not the majority of business in Europe. Thus there is still a long way until integration of biodiversity into business practice becomes mainstream in the EU.
CEEweb also was represented at the 2nd International Conference “Making a difference. CSR Trends II” and on the CSR Hungary Conference and Exhibition.
If you like to remain connected with us on business and biodiversity issues, please check our new newsletter dedicated to businesses and NGOs that are interested in cooperation with businesses, which is accessible through the link below.
On September 22-23, 2014 CEEweb for Biodiversity together with the European Centre for Nature Conservation, ECNC, organised a Natura 2000 Management Workshop as a side event to the EU Biogeographical Process. The event consisted of two parts: a follow up of the Alpine biogeographical seminar and a preparatory Continental/Pannonian/Steppic/Black Sea workshop. Altogether 38 experts from governments of Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland and Austria as well as NGO, National Park and Forestry representatives as well as a representative of the European Commission were present.
The group discussed various approaches to forest management including a heated discussion on traditional versus non-intervention forest management, funding opportunities for conservation, as well as issues within the forests and grasslands habitats. Participants presented case studies on multi-stakeholder grassland management, forest restoration, wild herbivore reintroduction, NGO involvement in Natura 2000 management and many more.
The workshop’s results were published in a report both on CEEweb’s website and the European Commission’s Natura 2000 Platform, and were transmitted to the European Commission in the form of workshop recommendations.
Over 70 experts from various European countries gathered at the CEEweb Academy on Green Infrastructure that took place on 6-7th October 2014 in Rackeve, Hungary. The meeting was fruitful in sprouting new project ideas, enhancing the understanding of the concept of Green Infrastructure (GI) and connecting the relevant stakeholders.
At the event, European Commission presented the recent policy development, while governmental representatives from France, Austria, Great Britain, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Estonia showed the state of GI implementation in their countries, speakers from business, architecture, road construction, conservation, water and planning sectors discussed opportunities for GI and interesting GI projects in the rural and urban settings were showcased. The academy was organised by CEEweb with the support of the European Centre for Nature Conservation, ECNC. The event gathered speakers, pannelists and participants ranging from NGOs, some of them representing CEEweb members from Central and Eastern Europe, through governmental officials, scientists, NGO employees, business representatives and simply GI enthusiasts to European Commission representatives.
If you are from a local authority, business, or if you are involved in policy making, work with environment or do farming, visit the Knowledge Hub on CEEweb’s website to find useful information on Green Infrastructure (GI) collected specifically for you.
CEEweb launched the Green Infrastructure Knowledge Hub on its website in 2014. The page aims to improve the understanding of GI among all the relevant actors while taking into account their background and motivation. The page also lists many funding opportunities, as CEEweb recognises that financing is often the main obstacle to GI implementation. Additionally, the website features many resources on GI, including, relevant short films, training materials on the topic by CEEweb and ECNC’s, news and events.
Last but not least, you will find out that CEEweb offers expertise in conducting trainings on GI, project writing, assessing GI sites, coordinating projects and authoring brochures. The website also provides access to the European Green Infrastructure Practitioners’ Network – an online interactive platform for expert knowledge sharing and experience exchange. Please visit and join.
On November 4-5, 2014 CEEweb and the European Centre for Nature Conservation, ECNC, organised a workshop for local authorities at Biebrza National Park, Poland. The training course brought together around 30 participants from local municipalities, landscape and national parks, NGOs, forestry authorities, spatial planners, regional and national environmental authorities as well as environmental consulting companies.
The training was entitled “Shaping the Landscape for Nature and Regional Development: the Possibilities Offered by Green Infrastructure”. During the workshop three practical group exercises on mapping and evaluating landscape elements, project planning and stakeholder conflict resolution took place. Several presentations were held on national and regional green infrastructure, blue infrastructure, green infrastructure in road construction. An introductory presentation gave overview about the concepts of ecosystem services and natural capital, and related EU strategies and legal framework. On the second day of the workshop participants had a chance to see problematic areas in Biebrza National Park.
Similar workshops for local authorities, as well as roundtables for regional and national authorities from different sectors are planned for 2015. Contact us for more information.
Resource Cap Coalition
Imagine a world of fairness and moderation, where the guiding values are care and trust among people along with the appreciation of environment. CEEweb is led by this image and spreads the idea of resource-capped economy for implementing this vision at different forums as the coordinator of the European Resource Cap Coalition.
At the biannual International Conference of Ecological Economics, we presented our views and searched for allies from the scientific community. During the 4th Degrowth Conference we organized a scientific session and an interactive workshop on the need to reduce our consumption and on possible tools to achieve this aim. At the World Resource Forum for lead scientists and policy makers in the field of resource use, CEEweb presented two posters on need and methods for capping our resource use. Last, but not least, in the SUSCO Conference we urged for political acceptance for limiting the use of the most overarching resource: energy.
News from international conventions
While NGOs are disappointed at the progress of CBD COP12 that took place in the Republic of Korea in October, there were some important decisions made at the meeting, such as on doubling the total biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries by 2015.
Other important COP decisions were agreed on integrating biodiversity into Sustainable Development Goals, on adopting milestones to eliminate harmful incentives, on voluntary guidelines on biodiversity financing mechanisms as well as on addressing risks associated with the introduction of some alien invasive species. It is also remarkable that in some fields the CBD has extended its scope and adopted new language, such as on calling for mobilizing “domestic resources”, which had been initially greatly opposed by some larger developing countries.
At the same time though, the 4th Global Biodiversity Outlook found that the progress towards the Aichi targets is insufficient, and target 10 on vulnerable marine and coastal ecosystems will not be achieved by 2015 for sure. This confirms that CBD still does not provide the strong political guidance based on a holistic approach, which would be necessary for achieving the main aim: halting biodiversity loss so that ecosystems provide essential services contributing to human well-being.
Despite the insufficient progress to achieve the targets, CBD still stops at setting milestones for actions, while the real contribution of CBD to the well-being of people and Planet would be a contribution to develop comprehensive resource and land use policies.
On September 26, 2014 the seven Parties to the Carpathian Convention adopted the Strategy for Sustainable Tourism Development of the Carpathians. The new strategy aims to support the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine in the development of the Carpathians as a competitive tourism destination in Europe, based on its unique natural and cultural heritage.
“The strategy will trigger many innovative projects both by governmental bodies and by the tourism industry” said Michael Meyer, the project manager in charge at Ecological Tourism in Europe, Germany (E.T.E., a member of CEEweb). The process of developing the strategy with involvement of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders could be a useful example for other mountain regions in the world for a cross-border sustainable tourism development. Good practices of existing sustainable tourism in the Carpathians were also collected and can be used by stakeholders in the Carpathians and beyond.
The implementation of the strategy is underway with the coordination meeting of the Carpathian Convention Working Group on Sustainable Tourism held already in November 2014 and two more meetings planned next year.
E.T.E. coordinated the project for developing the strategy Ecological Tourism in Europe, CEEweb office joined as a partner organization. The project is supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Protection, Building and Nuclear Safety of Germany. The contribution of CEEweb to the project is partially co-financed by the European Commission.
Watch, listen, learn, celebrate
The Go Wild! photo competition and the Green-Go short film contest were organised by CEEweb also this year. In addition, the CEEweb Award was launched to promote and reward best practices for nature conservation in Central and Eastern Europe.
Go-Wild! is a part of CEEweb’s awareness raising campaign on European efforts in protecting our natural heritage through the Natura 2000 network and Green Infrastructure. This year hundreds of amazing landscape and wildlife photos competed with each other. Check the photos and the winners >>
Being an eco-social initiative, Green-Go addresses year by year environmental issues and solutions by inviting and inspiring people to express their views through short films. This year, where CEEweb called for videos about climate change, family farming and ecosystem services; almost 100 videos were sent in from all around the world. Check the videos and the result at the Green-Go Short Contest’s website >>
The CEEweb Award aimed to demonstrate how CEE civil society and other stakeholders have contributed to conservation of European biodiversity. Good practice examples were expected in three categories: Managing our natural resources, connecting and restoring habitats and greening up urban spaces, as well as involving businesses in nature conservation. ADEPT Foundation from Romania won with its habitat conservation through traditional, sustainable land management with the involvement of local communities providing economic benefits for the people. BROZ (Regional Association for Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development) from Slovakia and Lithuanian Fund for Nature create stable habitats for valuable species, while enhancing public awareness of their importance. The Croatian Brod Ecological Society (BED) reintroduces cattle in abandoned areas to fight successfully against the aggressive dispersal of invasive species. Check for more details >>
Highlights from projects starting in 2015
In 2015 CEEweb will implement a project aiming to revert the trend in disappearance of small-scale family farms. This form of farming is under threat, because it is not competitive with food production and distribution by large multinational agro-processing companies. Also, the foreseen accession of Serbia to the EU and the WTO will increase competition for local farmers and not all will survive. Once Serbia becomes a member to the EU, the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy neither will help with that, as it mostly supports large agricultural holdings typical for the EU 15, while insufficiently contributing to making small-scale farming viable.
In Serbia, almost 50 percent of farms are smaller than 2 ha and those that are bigger than 10 ha represent a mere 6% of number of farms. The disappearance of small-scale family farms contributes to the loss of local livelihoods and decreasing food quality. It also deteriorates the environment and biodiversity. If the tendency continues, the majority of food production can in future be controlled by a few big producers who push farmers to produce unsustainably, threatening food quality and food security of the region.
These tendencies can be counteracted to some extent, and examples of success can be found in Visegrad countries. Strategies, policies and practices have been worked out to help small-scale farmers to maintain themselves, ranging from new legislation to product certification, increasing market access, and establishment of farmers’ cooperatives. CEEweb and its members have been active in working with decision makers and supporting farmers. We have advocated for policies on national and EU level and tested the good practices in the field. This experience can now be made useful in Serbia.
The project is implemented together with Young Researchers of Serbia, Eco Center (Serbia), Naturalist Club of Poland, Juniperia (Czech Republic) and Daphne – Institute of Applied Ecology (Slovakia). It is supported by Visegrad+ fund.
CEEweb, together with its members Estonian Fund for Nature, BROZ Slovakia and Milvus Group Romania will start wetland restoration project with on-the-ground activities in the three countries in 2015. The project is financed by the Michael Otto Foundation.
In Estonia, Boreal Baltic Coastal meadows along the Künnimaa creek will be restored improving the habitat for numerous endangered marsh species and wading birds. This will be the first ever large scale coastal wetland restoration project in Estonia which is likely to set example and deliver important experiences for future.
In Slovakia, the whole hydrological system of a 200 ha riparian area – the Kráľova lúka river branch system – will be restored. The project will implement new methods and practices that have not been tested in the region before.
In Romania, the first ever biodiversity-friendly river management plan will be drawn up for the Upper Niraj river. Milvus hopes that this alternative plan will be accepted by the local water management authority, which otherwise is likely to continue with outdated engineering solutions to flood management. Furthermore, they hope, biodiversity aspects will be more readily considered also when managing other rivers in future.
CEEweb Policy Office will conduct a research on the change of ecosystem services and related socio-economic benefits that occur in the course of these and other seven wetland restoration projects across Central and Eastern Europe. The assessments will be summarised in a composite report on socio-economic benefits of wetland restoration projects for the CEE region. It will also include policy recommendations on how to scale up local restoration efforts to national and EU level. In this way the recommendations will support the EU objective to restore 15% of degraded ecosystems by 2020.
News from members and partners
Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation is finishing 3 years project for preparation of the action plans for the Capercaillie, Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers. The project was funded by Bulgarian Operational Program Environment. The field activities are almost over. During the project 225 Capercaillie leks, the aggregation of birds during the breeding season where many male birds display for females, were discovered and described. The team collected 85 locations of Three-toed Woodpecker and 194 locations of the White-backed Woodpecker.
These three species are dependent of the existence of old-growth coniferous and beech forests with normal amounts of deadwood. They are the flagship and indicator species for old-growth forest conservation.
The action plan for Capercaillie will require all known Capercaillie leks to be included in the forest management plans and to receive strict protections from the Bulgarian Forest Act against timber harvesting activities. Bulgaria is the only European country where the spring hunting of Capercaillie is still allowed. We will propose this to continue because the sustainable hunting of Capercaillie is very big incentive for the protection of its habitats by the hunters and foresters.
The action plans for the Woodpeckers will recommend maintaining enough deadwoods in the forests and protection of 10% of the Natura 2000 sites as non-intervention areas.
The project collected more than 20 new sightings of Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers and information for more than 5 new leks on the territory of Rila mountain which was proposed as SPA Rila Bufer. Two other SCIs (Tsigansko Gradiste BG0000372 and Belasitsa BG 0000167) will be proposed to become also SPAs because the presence of viable populations of White-backed Woodpecker and Capercaillie.
Contact: Stefan Avramov, Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org
On September 24-26, 2014 the International Scientific Forum “Danube – River of Cooperation” (ISF “DRC”), marked its jubilee of work with the 25th annual conference titled Danube Strategy: From Idea to Implementation: From Theoretical Considerations to Investment Projects. The aim of the conference was to promote important projects and project ideas related to the priority areas of the EU’s Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR).
The President of the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia, Ms. Maja Gojković, opened the work of the conference by saying that for Serbia the cooperation within the EUSDR is a valuable experience and a strong impetus to European integration. At the end of her speech she recognised ISF “DRC” for the persistence in efforts to draw public attention to the importance of the Danube and of the regional and neighborhood cooperation.
Konstantinos D. Moussouroulis, Director-General for Regional Policy of the European Commission emphasized the importance of the Strategy for the Danube region, which, according to his words, is of great importance not only in the sphere of achieving economic progress and sustainable use of natural resources, but also in a more efficient solving of common problems in all areas of life.
Among many interesting and valuable contributions to the Conference was the one from Professor Dragoljub Todić and Dr. Marko Nikolić, titled Danube Strategy and International Law Protection of Biodiversity with the conclusion that the issue of biodiversity-protection is not adequately emphasized in the Danube strategy.
The President of the ISF “DRC”, Edita Stojić Karanović announced the intention of the ISF “DRC” to turn in future with more attention to generating projects, like the recently proposed project regarding preparedness of the population and the local administrations for the avoidance of the catastrophic losses in floods and to preserve biodiversity.
Contact: Dr. Edita Stojic Karanovic, International Scientific Forum “Danube – River of Cooperation”, email@example.com
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One of Europe’s oldest National parks, Mavrovo in Macedonia is targeted for construction of more than 15 small hydropower plants and two large hydropower plants known as “Boshkov Most” and “Lukovo Pole”. These projects implementation is initiated under the Macedonian Government and financially supported by the World Bank and EBRD, and are planned to be built in one of the richest and most beautiful parts of the national park in terms of plant and animal biodiversity.
These dam initiatives are part of the “tsunami” of uncontrolled hydropower development throughout immerse number of most pristine rivers in the Balkans referred to as the “Blue heart of Europe”. Therefore, the international NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur have launched the campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” in cooperation with several national partner organizations, aiming to prevent the destruction of most valuable rivers and river stretches in South Eastern Europe. The implementation of the project activities on national level is managed by three NGOs: Front 21/42, Macedonian Ecological Society and Eko-Svest. The goal of the national coordination team in Macedonia is to ban the initiative for dam construction in National park “Mavrovo”.
The Mavrovo National Park in Macedonia is famous for its extensive beech forests, alpine meadows, pristine rivers and streams and the variety of species. It is also the reproductive center of one of the most threatened mammal populations in Europe – the Balkan Lynx (Lynx lynx balcanicus) – critically endangered subspecies of the Eurasian Lynx. More than 100 scientists worldwide warned that the implementation of hydropower projects would have severe negative impacts on the biodiversity of “Mavrovo“ NP.
Initially, the Dlaboka Reka valley, characterized by unique ancient beech forests would have been among the affected areas. Just recently it was identified as a potential World Heritage site by an international expert delegation and excluded from construction plans by the financiers. It is the ﬁrst success and the coordination team continues to act in protection of Mavrovo.
Aleksandra Bujaroska, Front 21/42, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ana Cholovik-Leshoska, Eko-svest, email@example.com
Jovanovska Daniela, Macedonian Ecological Society, firstname.lastname@example.org
A partner of CEEweb reports that an online interactive “Traditional and wild” toolbox, has been created by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, to showcase the use of a variety of wild plant species for traditional medicine and food in Central Europe. The state-of-the-art toolbox was developed as part of an EU-funded “Traditional and wild” project, aimed at preserving knowledge about sustainable harvesting of wild plant resources, and is available in Polish, Hungarian, Slovenian and Czech, with some sections in Roma.
The toolbox contains online tools and learning resources specifically designed for the general public, private sector, scientific and educational institutions, and other stakeholders interested in wild plant resources. The information contained in the toolbox can be used in a variety of contexts, e.g. for training purposes and in workshops to enrich knowledge about wild plants. Check out the Resource section of the toolbox that is intended for users of wild harvested plants, companies seeking information about sustainable harvesting and trade, and government bodies charged with regulating such trade.
Also included is an overview of worldwide projects incorporating use of the FairWild Standard including those on FairWild-certified Frankincense Commiphora and Boswellia species from Kenya and Liquorice root Glycyrrhiza uralensis from Kazakhstan. The FairWild Standard was originally developed by organizations including TRAFFIC to support efforts to ensure plants are managed, harvested and traded in a way that maintains populations in the wild and benefits rural producers. An associated online cartoon has also been launched to explain and promote the use of the FairWild Standard.