2017 was a critical year for the European Landowners Organization (ELO) on the Biodiversity and Natura 2000 dossiers as the European Commission published its Communication on an “Action plan for nature, people and the economy”. It defines the four priority areas of an Action Plan for a more efficient implementation of the Nature Directives following the findings of the FITNESS check.
The Communication is accompanied by a Commission Staff Working document with fact sheets comprising priority actions for each priority area in the Action plan. All the actors contributed and reacted to this EC document including the EP and the CoR now participating in the process. The Action Plan is not only a DG ENV document but the collective work of a working group consisting of several Commission services under the supervision of two of the Commission Vice-Presidents.
The Action Plan was largely debated during processes which the ELO was actively involved in, thanks to the inputs of its members. Two important topics will be dealt separately from the Action Plan: the pollinator initiative and the Green Infrastructure due early 2018.
The important contribution of landowners and managers to the delivery of environmental benefits to the society were also promoted by ELO in 2017 during the CGBN, Nature Directors Meetings, or more technical meetings such as the MAES-Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Service, or the biogeographical seminars. To increase the visibility of the landowners contribution to biodiversity enhancement, ELO with the Natura 2000 Users Forum launched a survey on Cultural Ecosystem Services and will publish the results in 2018. An Invasive Alien species dossier was also important as the Commission publish new list of species of Union concern. ELO is closely following the file and will benefit from the input of its members during the working groups planned in 2018.
ELO is not only advocating for better acknowledgement of the landowners contribution to biodiversity during technical meetings but also showcasing and testing on the grounds good management practices through the programmes it is developing such as the Wildlife Estate label, the Horizon 2020 projects, the Erasmus projects and the Awards.