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Biodiversity protection measures

Only 5 per cent of the land area of Europe is currently designated as a protected area (see graphic). The major policy instruments relating to habitat protection are Agenda 2000, Natura 2000, the Emerald Network and the Pan-European Ecological Network. With these it is planned to create a coherent European ecological network of natural and semi-natural habitats and provide or restore corridors between existing protected areas throughout the region.

Protected areas: Europe

Note: number of protected areas includes those in IUCN categories I-VI

Source: compiled from UNEP-WCMC 2001b

Agenda 2000 is an action programme designed to strengthen EU policies. The programme will promote new interrelationships between rural areas and biodiversity, involving agri-environmental measures, structural funds, Less Favoured Area measures, afforestation measures, and so on.

In the EU, the Natura 2000 Network (Hoffmann 2000) is expected to become operational within a few years, with more than 10 per cent of EU territory designated for nature conservation purposes. For non- EU countries a less binding programme (the Emerald Network) was set up recently under the Bern Convention. Some eastern European countries have already established Natura 2000 networks.

These developments are key elements in Europe’s contribution to the CBD. EU strategy aims to complement biodiversity initiatives at the national level through a series of action plans to integrate biodiversity into other sectoral policies and programmes. Similarly, national biodiversity action plans are being developed throughout much of Europe.

Countries in Central and Eastern Europe still possess a wealth of well-preserved landscapes, ecosystems and species that are rare or already extinct in Western Europe. Most protected areas in these areas had been designated by the end of the l970s, often surrounded by large buffer zones and connected by habitat corridors linking sites. However, with economic transition, the system of nature protection came under intense pressure as state financing declined and it is now in jeopardy (see box).

Financial support for biodiversity in Central and Eastern Europe
Economic transition in Eastern Europe has caused biodiversity funding to dry up. In Bulgaria, for example, domestic financing collapsed in the mid-1990s and up to 90 per cent of all biodiversity financing now comes from foreign sources — the EU and bilateral funds, with €4-6 million provided annually by the Netherlands alone; Germany and Switzerland are also major contributors. However, foreign aid rarely exceeds 10-15 per cent of the required funding. Some popular parks in Central Europe are partially financed by park fees but these never cover more than 50 per cent of the costs of park maintenance (OECD 1999).