Continental, Pannonian, Black Sea and Steppic Biogeographical Kick-off Seminar
One hundred and fifteen participants representing 14 Member States attended the Continental, Pannonian, Black Sea and Steppic Biogeographical Kick-off Seminar, which took place in Luxembourg from 29 June to 1 July 2015. The event was hosted by the Luxembourg Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructures (Environment Department) and represented one of the first international events organised at the beginning of the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU.
In his opening speech, Mr Camille Gira, the State Secretary for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure made a strong case for a better and more effective implementation of the nature directives. In this, he welcomed the European Commission’s initiative to support the Member States in this task through the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process. In addition, he said that during the Luxembourg Presidency, a clear message would be given that the nature directives should not be re-opened for review as an outcome of the refit process.
Following the opening session, participants joined one of three excellent excursions to the north, east, west and south of the Grand Duchy, Belgium and France. The visits included the Müllerthal Region, the Our Valley and the freshwater mussel nursery, dry grasslands and rocks of the Sierck region (France), the restored gravel pits at Haff Réimech (a wetland of international importance), the man-made landscape resulting from open pit land mining at Prenzebierg-Giele-Botter, and the restored dry grasslands at La Praille (Belgium).
On the second day, issues and barriers related to habitat conservation and solutions for how to overcome these were discussed in four habitat group sessions. Participants contributed actively through facilitated group work. Important issues raised and discussed included the need to make a better use of agri-environmental payments, adopting integrated and inclusive approaches to habitat management planning, monitoring and assessment of habitat conservation status, and the need to improve coherence between sectoral policies affecting nature conservation. Participants stressed the importance of having more exchange and gathering of good and bad practice examples for common issues.
In the evening, over thirty-five projects and initiatives took part in the animated Knowledge Market which was opened by Ms Pia Bucella, Director of Natural Capital at DG Environment, along with Mr Gira. Finally, after much networking and informal exchanges that took place during the breaks, lunches and dinners, on day three the results of the group work were presented and discussed in plenary. The rich harvest of ideas from this seminar will form the starting point for follow-up actions starting in Autumn 2015.
Background information and the presentations can be found here.