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Raising Awareness about Natura 2000

New BirdLife initiative marks 10th anniversary of EU Habitats Directive…

BirdLife International Partners from around Europe will today join with the European Commissioner for the Environment, Margot Wallstrom, to launch a new BirdLife initiative promoting the benefits of the European Union`s (EU) Natura 2000 protected areas network . The project will be launched in the European Parliament to mark the 10th anniversary of the EU Habitats Directive and aims to promote the benefits of the Natura 2000 protected area network. It will also raise awareness of the benefits of the network amongst EU citizens, especially people living in and around Natura 2000 sites. Commissioner Wallstrom`s speech is expected to emphasise the benefits to EU citizens of Natura 2000 sites.Most European citizens already know the benefits of national parks, but not as many are familiar with the benefits of the Natura 2000 network, said Dr Michael Rands, the Director and Chief Executive of BirdLife International. He went on to say, BirdLife`s Natura 2000 project will promote positive messages to key stakeholder groups about EU funding opportunities and examples of projects that promote sustainable development at SPAs and that could benefit future sites. This is the strength of the BirdLife Partnership: a grassroots organisation capable of mobilising some two million active volunteers across Europe to work for the conservation of birds and biodiversity and show stakeholders the economic and social benefits of living in and around Natura 2000 sites.This project has been extremely useful for SEO/BirdLife because it has strengthened relations with our BirdLife Partners. We hope it will also help us to expand the existing 6 million hectare Natura 2000 network in Spain to 15 million hectares, an area the size of the Benelux countries, said Juan Criado, Conservation Director of SEO/BirdLife.The main results anticipated from the project are:

A reduction in the reluctance of key stakeholders to accept the benefits of the Natura 2000 network following the distribution of project information materials and discussion of the issues with BirdLife Partner members.

The dissemination of positive messages about the Natura 2000 network and promotion of funding opportunities to EU decision-makers, national, regional and local governments and stakeholders living in Natura 2000 sites.

A website to be launched next Spring in all eleven EU official languages. This will be an independent domain with links to the Environmental, Agricultural and Regional Policy of the European Commission which currently provides funds for sustainable development within Natura 2000 sites. The project is also an umbrella for some LIFE Nature projects already being implemented by BirdLife Partners that have proved to be excellent instruments for conserving threatened species and habitats within the EU, said Miguel Naveso, Head of BirdLife`s European Community Office. He went on to say BirdLife International expects a marked increase of LIFE funds and similar financial instruments to achieve the goal established in the 6th Environmental Action Programme and endorsed by Prime Ministers and Heads of States in June 2001: halting biodiversity declining by 2010. - For more information please contact Miguel Naveso on +32 2280 0830 or +32 478 474391 (mobile).

4th July 2014