Focusing on ecological connectivity of land uses
In spite of failing to meet the overall target to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010 and beyond, Europe has achieved many gains for biodiversity, not least the designation of more than 17% of the territory of the Member States as Natura 2000. 2010 was a year for taking stock of trends and progress in relation to the conservation of nature; thus in its conclusions of 15 March 2010, the Environment Council agreed a new long-term vision and midterm headline target for biodiversity in the EU for the period beyond 2010. The new target is:
"To halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, restore them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss."
The development of an EU strategy for a green infrastructure as a wider and more comprehensive approach figures prominently in the EU’s new post-2010 biodiversity policy. This is because a green infrastructure is viewed as being one of the main tools to tackle threats to biodiversity resulting from habitat fragmentation, land-use change and loss of habitats.
Like the ecological network approach, green infrastructure is based around the idea of core areas, ecological corridors, buffer zones and restoration areas, but it extends further to include the socio-economic aspects of the rural and peri-urban environment and ecosystem services. It aims at improving the ecological quality of the wider environment to make it more friendly and permeable to wildlife.
Pan-European Ecological Network
ECNC has a political mandate to coordinate the establishment of the Pan-European Ecological Network (PEEN), and runs the joint secretariat of its Expert Committee together with the Council of Europe. ECNC has a successful track record in the establishment of regional, national and international cross-boundary ecological network initiatives. Several European, national and regional ecological network maps are available for downloading.
This programme maintains links with other similar initiatives in Europe, such as:
- the Ecological Continuum Initiative and the platform Ecological Network of the Alpine Convention (www.alpine-ecological-network.org) together with the ECONNECT project (www.econnectproject.eu);
- the Carpathian EcoRegion Initiative (www.carpates.org);
- the Dinaric Arc Initiative (www.dinaricarc.net).
With a programme now dedicated to green infrastructure and protected areas, ECNC is well placed to play an important role in developing science–policy links and exploring best practice and the actual delivery of working multifunctional landscapes in which green infrastructure is a key element.