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European citizens sent a clear message: NATURA 2000 should be protected!

Zelena akcija/Friends of the Earth Croatia today held a press conference in collaboration with the environmental network Friends of the Earth Europe, about the importance of nature conservation in Europe and Croatia. The conference was held on the occasion of their European meeting on nature protection which is being held this week in Zagreb and […]

Zelena akcija/Friends of the Earth Croatia today held a press conference in collaboration with the environmental network Friends of the Earth Europe, about the importance of nature conservation in Europe and Croatia. The conference was held on the occasion of their European meeting on nature protection which is being held this week in Zagreb and is attended by the leaders of the campaigns from as many as 12 European countries.

At the conference were presented nature protection legislation in Europe and a successful campaign called Nature Alert, in which Croatia also participated.

The consultation on amending the European legislation on nature protection organized by the European Commission broke all records, as more than 100 civil society organizations and more than 500,000 citizens took part, sending a clear message – legislation on nature protection should not be amended and more effort should be put into better implementation of protection measures and management of NATURA 2000 sites.

“In Europe, 1,400 plant and animal species are protected in 27,000 Natura 2000 sites, comprising 22% of its surface area, and the citizens of Europe sent a clear message that they want to see these areas protected in the future,” said Robbie Blake, coordinator for biodiversity in Friends of the Earth Europe Brussels office. “We all have the right to nature and natural environment for the benefit of nature itself, citizens’ health and general social well-being” – he added.

Magnus Vessel from BUND – Friends of the Earth Germany, the largest German organization for protection of nature and environment, said: “We in Germany are a bit envious of Croatia, because you still preserve a traditional form of agriculture, which is very important to maintain as it contributes to the protection of health and nature. In fact, intensive agriculture is responsible for 70% of habitat destruction and endangering of plant and animal species in Europe. Yet Germany is an example of how nature conservation and economy are not necessarily in contradiction as here the number of protected areas has doubled since 1992”.

Natasa Ioannou from Friends of the Earth Cyprus highlighted the example of elaboration of a management plan for the swampy area of Lake Oroklini protected as a Natura 2000 site, which  contributed not only to nature conservation and citizen education, but also to tourist offer diversification through various forms of eco-tourism.

“Here in Croatia we are also involved in all these European processes,” said Jagoda Munic from Zelena akcija, “and it is important to point out that it was precisely through NATURA 2000 that we managed to protect the source of Ombla river from devastation by plans for a hydroelectric power plant. However, there is a constant pressure to water down the Nature Protection Act and to weaken nature conservation through reduction of protection measures, the marginalization of expert and public opinion, and the privatization of services in protected areas. In order to change this trend we initiated cooperation with various land users in NATURA 2000 areas and began to establish cooperative councils that reflect on sustainable use, management and protection of these areas”.

21.01.2016.