Thinking about how to drive the protection of privately protected land forward, the need for business models that work for landowners and land-users as well as for nature plays a central role. An interesting read by Seema Jayachandran explains how we could take over key elements of the Airbnb business model to do just that. In essence, the idea is to find a middle ground between private development and turning the land into a nature reserve. Land could be “rented out” to nature in certain times when the owner has less need for it or by establishing nuanced land use rights which work for both. The latter concept of establishing user rights and identifying clear protection targets on a piece of land which may still be used for other purposes is also the main idea behind the concept of conservation easements. Which has been a key topic within the LIFE ELCN project and is continuing to be under LIFE ENPLC.
To landowners, such business models are attractive as they receive payments for adjusting their practices, which helps reduce potential risks. Programmes like BirdReturns are also developed in cooperation with farmers and are voluntary which increases willingness to cooperate. At the same time, it provides conservationists with the real investment when applying the concept of reverse auction. In general, the costs of such approaches to private land protection undercut those of purchasing land greatly and have proven to be very effective.
The article is a great read for anyone interested in learning about innovative business models and approaches to private land the topic and highly recommended.
Montis, a project partner in LIFE ELCN as well as LIFE ENPLC, is also coordinating the LIFE project “Volunteer Escapes”, which entails the deployment of volunteers from the European Solidarity Corps to support nature conservation and biodiversity activities.
The project builds on Montis’ previous experience in the hosting and deployment of volunteers and diverse nature and biodiversity conservation activities. Montis’ increasing experience with volunteering programmes plays a key role within the LIFE ENPLC project, as we set out to further civic engagement for private land conservation through the involvement of volunteers on privately conserved land. Montis is currently looking for sponsors and patrons who would be interested in helping them to further expand their volunteering programme. Please reach out to Jóni Vieira, Montis’ head of the volunteering programme if you would like to get involved or know of someone who might be interested in the programme.
On Tuesday 24 November 2020, as part of the ILCN/ELCN webinar series, a webinar was organised on the topic of “The Natura 2000 Protected Areas Network: the History and Future Outlook for Integrating Conservation on Private Lands”.
Natura 2000, a network of protected areas covering 18% of land and 10% of marine waters for the most valuable and threatened species and habitats across all 28 countries of the European Union, is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. The webinar explored the creation of the network; its evolving approach to integrating conservation on private lands; discussed its results for nature and biodiversity conservation in Europe and introduced a case study from Ireland. Speakers shared reflections on the history, context, and future outlook for Natura 2000 and private land conservation, providing an opportunity for conservation practitioners, land managers, and protected area coordinators to get in-depth perspectives into the achievements, lessons learned, and broader implications from this unique effort.
To specify, Mr. Angelo Salsi of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (EASME) gave a brief but comprehensive overview of the origin of the Natura 2000 network, explaining the biogeographical approach and highlighting the uniqueness of the network. What makes the Natura 2000 network so special is its strong scientific focus in the legislation, a strong drive from the European Commission, the financial programme which supports the process and a conductive social and political context. The next speaker, Anton Gazenbeek, shared his expert insights on the historical context. His presentation also included the exciting news on the cooperation between the network of European private landowners (ELO) and that of conservation organisations (Eurosite) who will soon start working on a shared project, the continuation of the ELCN LIFE project as Conservation Landowner Coalition. His talk was followed by an inspiring personal story from Michael Davoren, a landowner from Ireland involved in the creation of the Burren Programme. His presentation included the introduction of a five-point template for successful private land restoration and he emphasised the importance of including landowners in decision making and planning. Lastly, Frank Vassen of the European Commission's Nature Unit of the General Directorate for the Environment completed the round of inspiring talks by providing an overview on the current impact of the Natura 2000 network – did they deliver? In short, yes. For instance, thanks to legal protection, many species of mammals and birds that were formerly persecuted (killing, poisoning, collecting, etc.) have recovered.
A recording of the webinar is available at the ILCN website.
In the past years, three students of Bologna University in Italy have written their theses on ELCN-related topics or used the LIFE ELCN project as case studies, supervised by Professor of Conservation Finance Stefano Picchi. Stefano is also involved in ELCN through the consortium partner WWF Oasi.
In December 2019, Francesco Bucceri obtained his master’s degree in “Local and Global Development” with a dissertation titled “The Italian private natural areas and the European Land Conservation Network project”. He analysed the problems and the best management practices concerning private natural areas to support the implementation of the pilot action A.12 of the project on historic heritage and nature conservation in Italy. Please find the thesis (in Italian) here.
Rachele Carbone graduated in 2018, and with her research she seeks to deepen the dynamics and strategies of nature conservation in the context of private protected natural areas. During the research she created a collection of the bases for a network for sharing good practices between Italian private natural areas, in correspondence with the aim of our Pilot Action A.12 "Historical Heritage and Nature Conservation". Rachele's thesis is available here (in Italian).
Another student that recently graduated on the topic is Giada Scuccato. The title of her thesis is: “Approach to European Funds for organisations active in nature conservation”. The aim of this thesis is to provide a first approach to European funding and other funds for organisations active in nature conservation. The first part details the best approaches to employ in researching, selecting, and applying for the funds that best meets their needs, as well as how to write a good proposal. The second part analyses three case studies. One of these is the European Land Conservation Network (ELCN). Please find Giada's thesis here (in English).
On Thursday 15 October, as part of the ILCN/ELCN webinar series, we organised a webinar together with colleagues of the Resifarms project. The webinar explains the different problems Resifarms aims to tackle, the solution the project suggests and the different actions that are being and will be conducted.
Farmland represents 40% of EU land. Agriculture can sustain high levels of biodiversity and be highly productive, but if managed too aggressively it can pollute and degrade the environment. There is a well-known synergy between agricultural production and semi-natural habitat conservation (ponds, forests, etc.) but it is still scarcely applied. The Resifarms project is preparing a toolkit and training sessions for farmers and technicians of Spain, France, Italy, Czech Republic and Romania to build up their skills.
Information about the benefits of conserving semi-natural habitats for farming and its productivity, and the great importance of conserving these areas for nature, health and society is vaguely known by farmers and agriculture technicians, but they often lack the know-how and the tools to implement such conservation actions.
In this context, the project Resifarms aims at building the capacity of farmers and agricultural technicians in the conservation of semi-natural habitats, in order to promote the implementation of the most direct and effective conservation actions. More information on the project is available here.
Please find a recording of the webinar here
On the 6th of October 2020 MONTIS launched a new crowdfunding campaign to raise money to invest in the transformation of 4.9 ha of abandoned eucalyptus and bushland areas into native woodland.
The investment will address the plots bought in 2019 with the previous crowdfunding: 6 parcels in the centre of Portugal to dedicate to nature conservation. The current eucalyptus areas are not of interest for conservation or production actions, and therefore can be converted into a more biodiverse landscape.
After some time looking for solutions and partners for its conversion, ELCN project partner MONTIS decided to proceed with its own resources and with the resources from those who want to see these examples implemented. The techniques to be applied are technically easy to implement, which increases their pedagogical value and replicability.
Montis' important work can be supported by donating to the campaign here.
The Boston Consulting Group together with NABU and Birdlife International just published a report on the business of biodiversity conservation, featuring a case study of our LIFE ELCN project. Similarly, McKinsey recently published a report on valuing nature conservation. Both publications are good examples of voices from the private sector calling out for higher ambitions with regard to global biodiversity conservation.
"Biodiversity is at the core of human well-being. Its services allow our economy to thrive and ensure the livelihood of billions of people. Yet, the rate of biodiversity decline has never been so fast: Around one million species are facing extinction within the coming decades, and every year over $6 trillion of nature’s economic benefits are lost.
In response to the growing crisis, NABU and BCG conducted a comprehensive analysis to answer three questions:
Among the reports findings are that biodiversity provides over $170 trillion in yearly benefits on top of its inherent value, that the root causes of biodiversity loss arise from economic activities, that biodiversity and climate change are strongly interlinked, and that a systemic approach to change is needed. The full report is available for download here.
As a result of their work on the pilot action Tax Incentives for Stewardship Agreements, Fundación Biodiversidad has produced a report on the possibilities for tax incentives in Spain, as a useful tool to promote the development of nature conservation initiatives on private land.
Currently in Spain there are no tax incentives specifically designed for this purpose.
This report collects and updates proposals for tax incentives in this area. The analysis is focused on incentives at the state level, and is especially focused on promoting the concept of land stewardship, although other forms of private conservation are also considered.
For the introduction of tax incentives in this area, it is important to consider the following aspects:
Type of initiatives: in addition to the land stewardship, incentives should target the land located in protected natural areas; or land with sustainable forest management plans; but also certain agricultural and livestock initiatives may be considered for such incentives.
Impact of initiatives: to ensure that they fulfil their purpose, incentives can be accompanied by a series of measures, such as including specific requirements and conditions and linking them to the land where the conservation is carried out (and not their owners); modulating the benefits based on quality or impact of the incentivised measures; establish commitments to maintain and improve environmental values; offer the possibility of splitting deductions into different fiscal years, and prioritise the introduction of benefits specifically designed for nature conservation (instead of expanding the assumptions of application of existing incentives).
Applicability of incentives: the introduction of incentives should be accompanied by appropriate enforcement and verification mechanisms; In this sense, the possibility of creating a public registry of land stewardship agreements, or of private conservation initiatives in general, appears to be especially relevant.
The webinar “Legal Tools for Private Land Conservation in the EU” on 3 June 2020, organised by the International Land Conservation Network (ILCN) and the European Land Conservation Network (ELCN), discussed several tools and approaches used for private land conservation. By shedding light on the two ongoing LIFE projects dealing with private land conservation (LIFE ELCN and LIFE Land is Forever) as well as the new Horizon 2020 research project "contracts 2.0", the webinar introduced listeners to some of the most prevalent and promising private land conservation tools in use today.
The first half of the webinar showed which tools are most attractive
(and for which reasons) from a private landowner perspective.
Anne-Sophie Mulier and Jurgen Tack of ELO presented the findings of
large-scale polling of private landowners across the EU and made
suggestions on how to include landowners in the further development of
private land conservation in Europe.
The second half of the webinar addressed voluntary conservation
contracts with a focus on results-based agri-environmental payment (RBP)
schemes as an innovative tools in the EU's Common Agricltural Policy.
The project coordinator of "contracts 2.0", Bettina Matzdorf of the
Centre for Agricultural Landscape Science (ZALF), introduced
participants to the concept of results-based payments and sketched out
the research question of the new H2020 project.
The webinar concluded with a Q&A session dealing with the effectiveness
of various tools and the opportunities and challenges linked to their
implementation. Please note that a recording of the webinar is available here.
Irish ELCN project partner Brendan Dunford of the Burren Programme was featured in The Guardian. 'Has rewarding positive environmental impact revitalised an area of West Ireland? And is this a solution to the country's acute nature crisis?' asks the article.
The article mentions that Brendan arrived in the Burren in 1999 to do research for his PhD on farming. He soon recognised the changes that were exerting negative pressures on the landscape. The full article can be found here, and explains in detail how Brendan transformed the pressured land by means of introducing results-based agri-environment payment schemes and enhancing the relationships of 328 local farmers with their fields and nature. The Burren are in great shape, and very rich in biodiversity. Research by Dr. Dara Stanley of the University College Dublin has concluded that Brendan's approach is working. The Guardian article concludes that "The Burren could serve as a regional template for farming of the future", and that the new EU Farm to Fork Strategy that is part of the EU Green Deal is "rooted in the kind of ecological-based farming systems that Dunford's model has pioneered."
Photo credit: Burrenbeo Trust
The recording of the ILCN/ELCN webinar of 20 May 'Utter opposites? Conservation in a commercial farming context' is now available.
The webinar "Conservation in a commercial farming context" featured real-life case studies from the UK, New Zealand and Colorado, US. The speakers presented their creative and inspiring practical tools and strategies for reconciling intenvise agriculture with nature conservation in different settings. The following Q&A session showed that a key ingredient to successful conservation projects in agricultural landscapes is to empower the farmers and let them take ownership of the conservation solutions. A recording of the webinar is available here.
Photo credit: Klemens Karkow/NABU
On 24 April, the Results-based Agricultural Payment Scheme Network (RBP network) met for the second time in its history. The meeting built on the momentum generated through the inauguration of the informal network last September in Vienna. Due to Covid-19, it was held online instead of the planned in-person network meeting in Barcelona that had to be postponed - together with the ILCN/ELCN Global Congress - to April 2021.
The RBP network is off to a good start: It recently published its website, where it presents country case studies, offers information on RBP pilot projects and a compiles a growing literature database. Tilmann Disselhoff, Eurosite Board member and the coordinator of the LIFE ELCN project, has become an active member of the RBP network, thus ensuring maximum synergy between the two initiatives.
Recently, a new book has been published about RBPS in Ireland, to which ELCN project partner Brenden Dunford of the Burren Programme contributed.
On 13 May 2020, the International Land Conservation Network (ILCN) and the European Land Conservation Network (ELCN) organised a webinar on using EU LIFE funding for private land conservation. The webinar attracted 191 attendees and provided a useful resource for private landowners and conservationists working together with private landowners in their preparations for a LIFE project proposal.
The recording of last week's ILCN/ELCN webinar on using LIFE funding for private land conservation is now available.
The webinar started with a short introduction by moderator Tilmann Disselhoff on LIFE ELCN, a LIFE preparatory project funded project that aims to further private land conservation in Europe. The ELCN has recently been fully integrated into Eurosite. Tilmann was then followed by Angelo Salsi, Head of Unit of the LIFE Programme at the Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EASME).
Angelo kicked off the webinar with a short introduction of the LIFE Programme, and then gave an overview of how private land conservation has been funded by this programme until today. He then shared his thoughts on the state of play of the two current LIFE projects dealing with private land conservation (LIFE ELCN and LIFE L.I.F.E.) and presented his ideas about possible future projects and proposals on this topic, ending by encouraging people to continue to send in their applications on this topic.
Stefano Picchi – longtime LIFE expert and professor for conservation finance at Bologna University, talked about the practical aspects of developing, applying for and managing LIFE Projects. He provided interesting tips, insights and examples of pitfalls for these processes. He furthermore talked about the roles that private landowners and their organisations can take up in LIFE projects.
The webinar ended with a lively and interactive Q & A session about a variety of topics, such as the potenial scope and techincal ramifications of LIFE projects dealing with private land conservation, the relationship of LIFE to other EU financing mechanisms, and - more generally - the outlook for private land conservation and its role vis-a-vis the EU biodiversity policies in the next years.
To see the full webinar, please find the recording here. Additionally, in case you missed the LIFE information day, valuable information on the 2020 LIFE calls for proposals is available on the LIFE website.
ELCN project partner Montis is celebrating the donation of new land to the Montis association, as well as the installation of a new Board.
For the first time in the history of Montis, 10 plots of land were donated to the association for nature conservation purposes. This was not a donation of thousands of hectares, or a donation of the best land for conservation; this was the generosity of two people who understood that the best destination for those parcels was to donate them to Montis.
For Montis it is a new and very important step, since we have never received land donations before. Montis remains convinced that the way is: step by step, with the solutions that are possible at that moment, and counting on the generosity of everyone, so Montis can make its best efforts towards strong nature conservation in Portugal. The generous donors are presented in the picture on the bottom of this article.
There is a new Board leading Montis. Elections took place in December 2019 and the new board has taken the lead of the NGO. The new president is Pedro Oliveira, who was also member of the former board.
Montis intends to keep its mission of bringing the community closer to nature conservation and use volunteering to deploy management in abandoned areas, with the main goal of boosting biodiversity.
While the 2020 Global Congress had to be postponed for next year, on the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day on 22 April 2020, the ILCN/ELCN (online) Earth Day Plenary highlighted the importance of leadership at all levels of society – from national, subnational, and local government to civic and grassroots initiatives – to protect natural and cultural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
In case you missed it, the recording of the plenary is now available.
During this plenary a written Message of Support from HRH Prince of Wales to the Delegates of the International Land Conservation Network and European Land Conservation Network Global Congress was read.
XCN is glad to announce the publication of the latest Xarxa per a la Conservació de la Natura (XCN) -Nature Conservation Network- report on land stewardship initiatives. This is the eighth inventory in a series that has been published since 2003. This report collects together current land stewardship initiatives in Catalonia.
Land property and location
Objectives and monitoring
Finally, to facilitate the access to data, XCN created an on-line Land Stewardship Viewer. Information on land stewardship organisations and initiatives is displayed on a map and several interactive graphics. You can check this web-app here: www.xcn.cat/inventari (available in Catalan only).
For more information about the inventory, the viewer or about land stewardship initiatives in Catalonia, please do not hesitate to contact XCN directly.
Private and civic land conservation is becoming increasingly significant in conservation efforts around the world.
The 2020 Global Congress of the International Land Conservation Network and the European Land Conservation Network will bring together an international community of private and civic land conservation practitioners to build capacity by sharing expertise in conservation finance, conservation law and policy, organization and governance, and land stewardship, management and restoration.
The Congress will explore a range of topics, focused on how attendees may take specific actions in their home countries to advance private land conservation, and will kick off with a field trip to Monserrat Natural Park, featuring important Catalonian private land conservation initiatives. It will then alternate between a series of plenary lectures and several sessions of concurrent workshops. The workshops will cover a wide range of diverse topics presented by experienced colleagues and experts. They will run as five sessions concurrently within five areas of focus. Each workshop will be 90 minutes in length and will consist of a series of presentations by multiple speakers, followed by a facilitated panel discussion and an active dialogue with the audience, in which participants work collaboratively to advance their collective understanding of a particular topic. Workshops will focus on conservation finance, law and policy, organisation and governance, land restoration, and stewardship and management.
For more information on Congress format and a programme, please visit our dedicated event page.
At its 30th Anniversary on 5th November 2019 in Monticiano, Italy, Eurosite’s general assembly voted unanimously to change the organisation’s name to “Eurosite – the European Land Conservation Network” and to amend its mission accordingly, thereby laying the groundwork for a formal merger of the ELCN with Eurosite.
Eurosite president Stefan Versweyveld of Natuurpunt congratulated the representatives of the ELCN attending the meeting to this important strategic step: “Eurosite and the ELCN have already been working very closely together in the last years. The merger of the two networks is a logical continuation of this cooperation. Joining forces will enable us to provide our members even better service and to be more efficient in our work. I am looking forward to working together with the entire land conservation community to advance the protection and restoration of our natural heritage in Europe.” The ongoing LIFE ELCN project is currently coordinated by NABU, the German Birdlife partner. The coordinator of the ELCN, Dr. Tilmann Disselhoff, was voted to become a board member of Eurosite, ensuring a smooth transition of the ELCN to the Eurosite secretariat in the next months.
On behalf of NABU and the ELCN, Inga Racinska of SIA Biota is currently preparing a study on the use and potential of conservation easements in the EU. First results show that conservation easements could be a promising tool to engage private landowners in voluntary nature conservation activities.
First results from an online questionnaire (n=93) show that the majority of EU private land conservation practitioners perceive a lack of adequate legal tools that allow organisations to engage private landowners in voluntary nature conservation activities and that conservation easements could be a promising tool helping to fill this gap. 62% of respondents have heard about conservation easements, but only 22% have actually used them in their own conservation work. A surprisingly high number of respondents to the survey would be interested in testing conservation easements and would welcome hands-on training in this regards. The full results of the study will be published in early 2020.
During the week of 26 August to 1 September in Vieiro and Costa Bacelo, another international Montis Work Camp took place on two of the properties under Montis management.
With the aim of improving the landscape of the properties and riparian galleries, the activities during the camp involved the maintenance of access to be able to access more and unmanaged parts of the properties, control of invasive alien species, support of natural regeneration of native trees, and ecological monitoring using photo cameras.
Dividing the tasks between the two properties, the week started with one of five workshops on natural engineering - learning techniques to construct natural and semi-natural barriers for water and soil retention. This was followed the next days by a workshop on bat capture and identification by the Paiva and Paivô river, a workshop on invasive species, learning techniques and about native and alien invasive species that surrounded us every day. Lastly, the week finished with an auditory workshop, to reflect on the sounds of the forests and what those sounds can tell us.
Bringing together all the participants to give a hand to nature in Vieiro and Costa Bacelo and getting familiar with the work Montis does in marginal lands, this year’s workcamp ended with more than 600 interventions made (counting invasive species that were pulled out of the lands).
On 25th and 26th October 2019, representatives of conservation NGOs, the farming community and public agencies from Iceland, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Romania, Slovenia, Austria, Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland met at the yearly Burren Winterage Weekend for a seminar on high-nature value farming and results-based payment schemes.
Participants discussed common challenges to the viability of traditional agricultural uses in peripheral regions of high natural value (HNV), exchanged ideas and experience on how to best design agricultural funding programs that empower and support farmers willing to engage in land conservation. It became clear that community engagement, peer recognition, administrative flexibility and a focus on results instead of measures are key ingredients of successful programs. The seminar was a prime example for the value of peer-learning: After a series of presentations from various European countries, practitioners compared their payment scorecards used to assess the delivery of conservation results and engaged in discussions with farmers who participate in such programmes. It became clear that both the HNV and the RBP community benefit tremendously from international networking. A newly founded EU-wide network on results-based agricultural payment schemes will therefore connect pioneer approaches such as the one developed in the Burren and support their replication elsewhere. Leading representatives of this informal network agreed with the ELCN to seek closer cooperation in the future. For question, please contact the coordinator of the ELCN, Tilmann Disselhoff.
Photo credit cover picture: Martin Kiely
After a merger with the Environmental Volunteering Network of Catalonia, our partner XCT (Xarxa de Custòdia del Territory), the Land Stewardship Network of Catalonia, continues its activities under a new name: XCN – Xarxa per a la Conservació de la Natura.
Land stewardship is a strategy to involve landowners and users in the conservation of nature and landscapes, with support and input from a wide range of civil society groups. Through voluntary agreements between landowners/users and land stewardships organisations, nature, biodiversity, ecological integrity and landscape values will be maintained and restored.
For more information, please contact Jofre Rodrigo of XCN.
Join private, NGO, and community land conservationists from around the world at the International Land Conservation Network’s (ILCN) 2020 Global Congress, held in partnership with the First Congress of the European Land Conservation Network (ELCN)!
The 2020 Congress of the ILCN and the ELCN will build upon the momentum, conversations, collaborations, and relationships that have emerged within these two networks over the past several years. The Congress will explore a range of topics, focused on how attendees may take specific actions in their home countries to advance private land conservation. The Congress is free to participants.
The Congress will kick off with a field trip to Monserrat Natural Park, featuring important Catalonian private land conservation initiatives. It will then alternate between a series of plenary lectures and several sessions of concurrent workshops. This call for proposals invites contributions to the workshop sessions of the Congress.
The workshops will cover a wide range of diverse topics presented by experienced colleagues and experts. They will run as five sessions concurrently within five areas of focus (see below). Each workshop will be 90 minutes in length and will consist of a series of presentations by multiple speakers, followed by a facilitated panel discussion and an active dialogue with the audience, in which participants work collaboratively to advance their collective understanding of a particular topic. Workshop presenters typically present their ideas for no more than 60 minutes, leaving at least 30 minutes for questions, answers and discussion.
Areas of FocusWorkshops at the 2020 Congress will follow five tracks. Please note that the descriptions below are for guidance only and not meant to limit your ideas or suggestions for workshops.
Stewardship and ManagementThis area may include topics such as: monitoring of properties and measuring success; biodiversity conservation on properties; long-term management; working landscapes and land conservation; community-based conservation; conservation for both natural landscapes and cultural heritage
Applicants may propose one of the following:
Selection CriteriaThe Planning Committee is particularly interested in sessions that are interactive, generative, or stimulating to debate on current and future trends in the field. The Planning Committee will review and select session proposals using the following set of criteria:
All proposals must include an abstract of up to 250 words and a value proposition (up to 50 words on why the presentation would be of interest to participants).
Please complete the proposal form electronically at the following link: https://bit.ly/2WcZCnH
The Planning Committee reserves the right to solicit proposals for topics that may not yet be represented in the applicant pool.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: August 31, 2019
PROGRAM DECISIONS WILL BE ANNOUNCED BY LATE SEPTEMBER.
For additional information, please contact Chandni Navalkha, Program Manager for the ILCN, at email@example.com or Dr. Tilmann Disselhoff, Project Coordinator of the ELCN, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you very much, and we look forward to receiving your proposals!
In the framework of the ELCN, WWF Oasi convened the first ever national meeting of Italian privately protected areas in Orbetello from 3 to 5 April.
More than 50 participants representing various organisations and families who own land that is voluntarily dedicated to nature conservation participated in the meeting. The participants presented their respective private nature reserves and exchanged their experiences with regard to common challenges (e.g. funding, public support, management). The meeting was considered very successful. Participants expressed their interest to develop an Italian Private Land Conservation Network and to meet again in the future. More information on the new network can be found on its Facebook page.
The ELCN is carrying out a study on the use of easements as a conservation tool in the European Union. Please help us better understand the current use and growth potential of this conservation tool by filling out this 3-minute online questionnaire.
Background information: In 2018 NABU and the ELCN published the first EU-wide study on the legal bases of using easements for nature conservation (available for download on the ELCN website). The study showed that in 22 of the 25 EU member states analysed, there are no major legal barriers to using easements (or similar tools) for dedicating a property to nature conservation purposes. However, it did not investigate in detail where conservation easements are already being used or for what purposes.
As foreseen in Pilot Action A.06, Portuguese ELCN Project partner Montis seeks to bring land management where it lacks to create more biodiversity, more richness and more social value, with the community’s involvement. For this purpose, they intend to buy marginal land that in the recent past was important to the rural economy, but nowadays has no social function and is very vulnerable, namely to large wildfires, due to decades of abandonment. The goal is to give a hand to the natural processes to increase biodiversity and the landscape resilience in order to become more useful and pleasant to a larger variety of species. They are doing so through a crowdfunding campaign that can be found here in case anyone would like to make a donation - which naturally would be highly appreciated!
In the Açor mountain range (Pampilhosa da Serra), an area in great risk of violent wildfires due to the abandonment of the territory, Montis has signed a promise to 'buy contracts' for 3 land plots to where we plan to bring our model of open management, involving the society in the support of natural processes. In the Caramulo mountain range (Vouzela) they have a spoken agreement to buy 13 plots of lands close to the 5,5 ha that was already bought after a 2014 crowdfunding campaign. These plots, as well as the entire surrounding area, were burnt in a severe wildfire on October 15, 2017; the signing of the deed of sale depends on solving a couple of problems with the properties register. In the Arada mountain range (S. Pedro do Sul) they are negotiating the purchase of some plots contiguous to the 100 ha of common land that Montis already manages and where they have applied all their panoply of resources to engage with the community through volunteering, and the support of natural regeneration processes, natural engineering and prescribed fire techniques they prefer. The value of the last plots of land (Arada) is not included in this campaign as it is a situation that requires some time to discuss. It will serve as an alternative if the sale of the plots in Vouzela does not go through.
This campaign will finance the purchase of this land, and all the amount that exceeds what we ask will be used in the purchase, still in negotiation, of the plots contiguous to the common land of Carvalhais, in the Arada mountain range or any other land that they can negotiate.
On 5 February, MEP Karl-Heinz FLORENZ, President of the Biodiversity, Hunting and Countryside Intergroup of the European Parliament, has hosted an event in the European Parliament: Private landowners, what role for Europe’s nature? The event was an excellent opportunity to present the work of two ongoing LIFE Preparatory projects working on fostering and better institutionalisation of Private Land Conservation in Europe: Land Is Forever (LIFE LIFE) and European Private Land Conservation Network (LIFE ELCN).
Both projects have presented their work and plans for the future to a broad audience (more than 100 participants) of interested MEPs, representatives of European Commission and other interested organisations.
Mr. Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director Natural Capital, DG ENVI, European Commission gave a general introduction on the Commission’s vision on and the expectations from private land conservation in Europe, as an additional tool to statutory conservation and as a mechanism to enable the private land owners to have a more active role in the management of nature.
Mr. Jim Levitt, Director of International Land Conservation Network (ILCN), and Mrs. Marianne Kleiberg, Regional Managing Director Europe for The Nature Conservancy (TNC), have explained the global context for the work on private land conservation, and especially the link with the work land trusts are doing in the US. ILCN and TNC are supporting the work of the two LIFE projects LIFE ELCN and LIFE LIFE respectively.
Dr. Stig Johansson, Director, Parks & Wildlife Finland has offered a perspective of an EU Member State on what are the benefits of private land conservation. Mr Angelo Salsi, head of the LIFE & CIP Eco-Innovation unit of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (EASME) emphasized the need for everyone to work together and has underlined the need to make the European Private Land Conservation Network self-sustainable after the end of the two LIFE projects.
The event was an excellent opportunity for both project leaders. Dr. Tilmann Disselhoff, NABU, Germany, and Ms. Anne-Sophie Mulier, ELO, to send the message that we intend to join forces and work together towards creating a single network for the benefit of private land conservation in Europe. Combining the knowledge of conservation NGOs and the land of private land owners is the best way to ensure the necessary public recognition and broad political support.
From 3 to 5 April 2019, WWF Oasi organises the first meeting of Italian private natural areas as part of Pilot Action A12: "Pilot action on historic heritage and nature conservation".
This will be an excellent opportunity to present the work LIFE ELCN is doing at the European level on setting up the European Private Land Conservation Network to the potentially interested Italian organisations.
Please find further information on the event page.
The research targeted practitioners and included a series of focus group discussions and an online questionnaire. While the research was done in South Africa, the lessons learnt are applicable world wide.
Recommendations arising from this research are structured into four major themes: enhancing government–NGO collaboration; landowner partnerships; personnel capacity; and financial opportunities. A logic model to guide government–NGO collaboration is presented, along with a typology of the benefits and support mechanisms available to landowners involved in biodiversity stewardship. PLC initiatives must remain flexible in order to respond to changing socio- economic conditions. This research is intended to help facilitate such flexibility in private land conservation and privately protected area programmes.
Read the full article from our Downloads page.
The third International Workshop of the ELCN will deal with the topic of “Cooperation for Private Land Conservation”. The workshop, which will take place on 3-5 June 2019 in Sighisoara, Romania, will explore examples of successful cooperative models for private land conservation. It will tackle the question of how conservationists, landowners, land users, public authorities and other stakeholders can best work together to foster private land conservation.
For more information please visit the event page.
Some private land conservation models are explicitly focussed on strengthening the ties between the various stakeholder groups, the exchange of information and resources among the parties concerned, the identification of common goals and the creation of synergies by working together to accomplish these goals. Cooperative private land conservation models can take the form of institutionalised arrangements, such as the German local land care organisations, or regional marketing collectives for high-nature-value farm produce, but they can also represent informal arrangements that rely on personal relationships and trust.
ELCN project partner Montis has recently developed 3 volunteering actions with companies that allowed to deploy conservation efforts on two areas managed the NGO: Carvalhal de Vermilhas and baldio de Carvalhais, located in the center of Portugal. The actions took place on the 10th, 13th and 14th of October and accounted a total number of 92 volunteers.
These groups helped to plant a total of 97 native oaks in prescribed burning areas. Together with the acceleration of natural regeneration, actions to improve soil quality and seeding, these new plants will be followed up and managed by future volunteers in order to establish a new landscape mosaic that will boost biodiversity in the area.
Additionally, Montis is currently negotiating a new agreement with a private landowner that would allow the NGO to manage an additional area of 100 ha in the south of Portugal. The property belongs to the portuguese company ALTRI and the agreement would possibly guarantee the management of the property by Montis for the years to come. On the 17th of November a meeting dedicated to the management of the landscape was held by Montis near the place, and included a visit to the site with all participants to start the discussion of the management plan for the place.
The IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) has finalised and published their Guidelines for Privately Protected Areas produced by the IUCN WCPA Specialist Group on Privately Protected Areas and Nature Stewardship. These Guidelines provide illustration from field experience on how best to manage, govern, evaluate and conserve privately protected areas globally.
This document address planning and management of privately protected areas (or PPAs) and the guidance is aimed principally at practitioners and policy makers, who are or may be involved with PPAs. Guidance is given on all aspects of PPA establishment, management and reporting, and information is provided on principles and best practices, with examples drawn from many different parts of the world. The aim of these guidelines is to shape the application of IUCN policy and principles towards enhanced effectiveness and conservation outcomes, focused on PPA managers and administrators. Not all the guidance will necessarily apply in all social, political and economic contexts. However, learning from best practices around the world and considering how these can be incorporated at site or national level may improve the likelihood of success in private conservation and suggest how conditions might be improved to favour PPAs and thus capitalise on the opportunities they present.
The full document is available for download from the IUCN Library.
To many, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of incentives are financial tools. However at the ELCN's workshop on the subject in Madrid, Spain, from 5-7 November, it turned out the motivations were manifold, ranging from conservation ideals to sentiment and tradition. Interestingly, studies have shown that financial motivations often rank at the bottom of the list of reasons why landowners get engaged in private land conservation. During the workshop this was confirmed with both the results of a global level scientific research and practical examples.
The workshop has further examined and compared various tools for creating such incentives: fiscal tools that reward conservation on private land, technical / structural incentives, and legal incentives. It has presented some of best-practice examples of incentivising private land conservation, but it has also touched upon the potential areas of conflict (e.g. national subsidies for conservation and state-aid).
By learning about examples from outside of Europe (i.e. tax incentives and ballot measures in the United States), the workshop provided the opportunity to discuss if similar incentive mechanisms could potentially work in Europe as well, and whether a network such as ELCN could help to realise this.
The workshop was hosted by LIFE ELCN project partner Fundacion Biodiversidad at their premises in Madrid, Spain, and was attended by 39 participants from 12 countries.
Please find more information and downloads at our dedicated event page.
ELCN has commissioned a study with a purpose to document the current situation in the EU member states as regards to the legislative basis for conservation easements.
It was found that in 22 out of 25 countries that were analysed, easements (or variations of this mechanism) can be used to dedicate the property to nature conservation purposes in principle. The study confirms that many promising examples can be found in the EU, letting us conclude that most EU member states can apply the concept of conservation easements within the existing legal framework, with only minor adaptations or additions to existing laws. The main challenge is actually not the legal system themselves, but rather a lack of implementation practice and incentives for testing and wider application of this measure.
Read the full study on the download section of our website.
From 5-7 November 2018, in Madrid, Spain, the ELCN will organise its second International Workshop that will deal with incentives for private landowners to engage in conservation activities on their land. Its overarching theme is the question: Why do landowners conserve their land?
This workshop is jointly organised by Fundación Biodiversidad, Eurosite and NABU.
The motivations of landowners to conserve their property can be manifold, ranging from emotional place attachment to personal history, general environmental ethics and values, the feeling of social responsibility, financial considerations or compliance with environmental regulation. Interestingly, studies have shown that financial motivations often rank at the bottom of the list of reasons for private land conservation.
For more information about the workshop visit the event page.
We are proud to announce that our Pilot Action: Historic Heritage and Nature Conservation has been accepted as one of the events celebrating the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 in Italy. You can read more about it (in Italian) here.
Hosted by LIFE Mires Estonia and coordinated by the Estonian Fund for Nature, the Platform Meeting "Volunteering for Nature Conservation" took place from the 19th to the 21st of September 2018
The event was organised into three different sets of activities, distributed over three days.
Invited experts highlighted the work of other programmes that involve volunteers and offered lessons on attracting, motivating and utilising volunteers. Furthermore, the meeting explored the social aspects of volunteering and made links with other policy areas.
On the first day, various LIFE projects presented the work they have been developing with volunteers and nature conservation activities. There was a panel for 6 thematic workshops approaching different topics concerning volunteering and nature conservation. The second day included an all day long volunteering action, dedicated to restore mires through the building of natural dams with peat. The third day was dedicated to discussion and follow up of the work.
LIFE ELCN was represented at the event with a presentation from Montis about "Volunteering as Crowdsourcing for Nature Conservation", which was included in the panel "Legal Tools and Incentives for Volunteering."
On 30 July, the Catalan President Quim Torra warmly received the representatives of the Land Stewardship Network of Catalonia (XCT) at the Palau de la Generalitat (seat of the Catalan government).
In addition to the President, the General Director of Enviromental Policies (Ferran Miralles), and the Director of the President's Office (Josep Rius) attended the meeting as well. XCT reported on its key role in nature conservation in Catalonia and highlighted the accomplishments of the land stewardship movement:
The meeting provided an opportunity to address key issues and current challenges for nature conservation in Catalonia. XCT encouraged the President to urgently implement and improve the legislation on nature and land conservation, as well as to explore new financing formulas to guarantee the stable operation and professionalisation of land stewardship organisations. The President committed himself to work for the adoption of tax incentives for land stewardship. Lastly, it was agreed to appoint an interlocutor from the Presidency Department to ensure the President will keep informed on decisions and strategic policies emerging from the environmental sector.
After two years of preparatory planning, ELCN project partner NABU has started the large-scale restoration of valuable natural habitats at the future ELCN Company Reserve north of Berlin, Germany.
In the past month, more than 10,000 m³ of degraded peat was excavated in order to recreate two ponds at the centre of the pilot site. These works, which are financed outside the scope of the LIFE ELCN project, will boost the natural value of the site and, together with the planting of trees, hedgerows and flower strips on adjacent fields, will qualify it for designation as a nature reserve.
Read more about the pilot action "Company reserves" here.
Farmers, landowners, land managers, groups of farmers, on their own or in collaboration with research institutes, universities and/or private companies can now apply for the Land and Soil Management Award 2018/2019. Deadline for application is 31 December 2018.
The prize rewards land use and soil management practices mitigating soil threats i.e. soil degradation, erosion, reduction of organic matter content, diffuse contamination, and compaction as well as the reduction of soil biodiversity, salinization, sealing, flooding and landslides. In doing so, the award sheds light on outstanding achievements, encouraging new concepts of land and soil protection and their implementation in land management, as well as enhancing awareness about the importance of land and soil functions.
As an interesting fact, in 2010/2011 the prise was won by The Land Stewardship Network, a project run by the member of our project partnership Xarxa de Custòdia del Territori (XCT; Land Stewardship Network).
On the 25th of August Montis has signed an agreement with a private landowner, for the management of 2.3 ha of land in Valadares, São Pedro do Sul, Portugal.
The agreement will last for 10 years and will allow a conservation-based management favouring natural processes.
This is the first agreement Montis signs with a family, which therefore is a strong contribution to the pilot action (A.06). The motivations behind the agreement are mainly related to the lack of resources to manage the property and the occurrence of forest fires in the area. The owners used this plot for the production of wood for pulp (eucalyptus plantations), and the propriety burnt down in October 2017 during a wild forest fire.
Montis will be testing the crowdsourcing tools on this property within LIFE ELCN, and management actions will be focusing on boosting natural regeneration and providing a gradual convertion from the production area to a native forest.
The first thematic workshop of the LIFE ELCN Project was held in Rovaniemi, Finland, on 14-15 June 2018. The workshop focused on the legal tools for private land conservation in Europe and was hosted by the Finnish project partner Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Lapland (LAPELY).
During the first day we were focusing on conservation easements, and the second day was dedicated to the concept of privately protected areas. The workshop was well attended (29 participants from 15 countries) and has raised the interest of participants.
Some of the main lessons learnt are that national legal frameworks might be very different, but experience sharing is very important when trying to develop conservation easements and land stewardship agreements, or to establish privately protected areas (PPAs). It was interesting to realise how many countries are actually having easements recognised as a possible tool, even if these are not used to the full extent.
While some countries have more similarities than others, a lot of work still needs to be done at legal level to be able to make a European approach to the subject. There will not be a ‘one size fits all solution’. Legal tools (in particular those similar to conservation easements) to support private land conservation are needed, but the legal tools will most likely differ from one Member State to the other. There could be a clear role for a network such as ELCN to facilitate this.
It was good to see that there is interest in the topic from across Europe and that the participants really appreciated the opportunity to network.
An additional dimension that is necessary to support private land conservation in Europe are incentives (including tax and financial incentives). That is why this will be the topic of the next workshop ELCN is organising in November this year.
In Pilot Action A.09 Natuurpunt tries to cooperate with private landowners by writing integrated (joint) nature management plans, covering both Natuurpunt’s property as well as the adjacent private property.
The idea is that from an ecological point of view it’s far more logic to treat a nature area as a whole, neglecting the political or property borders, and work together (within private and public parties) to reach the European Natura 2000 objectives. Since October 2017, this cooperation with and between private landowners is made legally possible by the Flemish government by establishing a new nature legislation. The most important base lines of this legal change are the fact that from now on also a private landowner can write a nature management plan and submit his/her property for official recognition as nature reserve by an everlasting easement. Moreover, the private landowner can get subsidies for recurrent management (mowing, removing alien species, dredging a pond etc.).
So far, Natuurpunt has had good contact with many private landowners to launch the idea of a common management plan. A first determination thereby is that this “communication process” is lasting longer than we initially thought. It takes time to convince landowners of this unique opportunity, as well as to deal with all the legal consequences. Also, the new nature legislation is still very young and not completely operational yet, causing some landowners to drop the idea of a joint management plan. On the other hand, many of them are willing to designate their property as an official nature reserve and pass it on as a whole (when inherited, a domain is often divided into different parts amongst the heirs. Many private landowners want to keep their domain as a robust whole for the next generations).
At this moment, Natuurpunt is working on 5 concrete cases and already has 3 signed contracts (one contract with a municipality as participating landowner):
Also, ELCN will be published in our 3-monthly magazine (Natuurpunt.Blad), reaching more than 110,000 families in Flanders.
On the 29th of April Montis has re-signed an agreement with landowner “Junta de Freguesia de Valadares”, for the management of 3 ha of land in Valadares, São Pedro do Sul, Portugal. The new agreement has extended the timeline for 10 years. Considering that the previous agreement had the duration of 2 years, this is a great step towards a long-term management that will allow obtaining and consolidating results. The area is a steep hill that has burnt intensely in October 2016 during a wild forest fire. Management actions by Montis have been focusing on the control of invasive alien plant species.
At the same time, Montis is also in a dialog with a private landowner from Valadaresto establish a new management agreement for 3 ha of privately owned land. Conversations have gone well so far, and the team has already visited the place twice to perform on-site surveys and start the discussion of a possible management plan for the area.
Montis has been testing a few crowdsourcing tools that have been proven to be efficient so far. An academic volunteering programme has been developed and is taking place since October 2017, on a monthly basis. 6 editions have already been performed with university students from groups such as Vo.u, NEB AACand AEESAC, allowing to intervene over 10 ha within Natura 2000, planting over 1.500 trees, collecting over 60 kg of acorns and setting up over 40 nature-based devices for soil retention and improvement.
Very recently, on the 25th of April, the first volunteering action in Montemor-o-Novo, at Herdade do Freixo do Meio-site, has taken place. This site is being managed by Montis under a 10 year management protocol signed on the 06thof June 2017, already under the LIFE ELCN project.
Montis is organising an International Work Camp in June, from 16 to 22. Registration can be found here.
So far, under Pilot Action A6 – Crowdsourcing for private land conservation, the following results have been achieve by Montis:
Over the past century, the public sector was the predominant funder of land conservation projects, creating national parks, national forests and wildlife refuges in countries around the world. More recently, inventive conservation finance practitioners have discovered myriad ways to bring private capital to the effort - for example, funding for non-profit mitigation banks and providing impact capital to fund acquisition and stewardship of working forests and farmlands. The webinar on 29 May 2018 will explore several of these private and civic funding methods in depth.
Please find further information and registration here.
The International Work Camp organised by Montis in 2018 is taking place from 16 to 22 July in Carvalhais, São Pedro do Sul, Portugal. Read more.
Call for Comments and Examples is now open. An initial draft has been prepared, but your input, insights and illustrations are requested.
Responding to a mandate to IUCN to further develop guidance on best practice in the establishment and management of privately protected areas, building on the work and experience of national, regional and global networks and organisations (IUCN WCC-2016-036) the Specialist Group on Privately Protected Areas and Nature Stewardship of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas has prepared this initial draft.
The instructions on how to contribute and the consultation draft are available here.
The concept of voluntary protection of forests, as a new method to protect nature, has gained a lot of interest since the beginning of 2000s in Finland, Sweden and Norway.
Voluntary protection is based on one main principle: the forest owner can suggest areas to be protected by law. If the authorities accept the proposal the forest owner receives an economic compensation by the government. The forest is then usually set aside as a formal protected area on a permanent basis. In the end, it is always the forest owner who decides whether to offer an area for protection or not. Enhancing a spirit of openness, emphasizing the importance of dialogue and building confidence between the forest owners and other partners are crucial components of voluntary protection in all three countries.
There are a few dissimilarities between the countries regarding the practical implementation of voluntary protection of forests. Partly these differences are due to different administrative traditions and legislative frameworks in the respective country. In Finland temporary agreements with the forest owners, usually for a time period of 10 years, are used in parallel to permanent protection of forests. Nevertheless, establishing permanent protected areas is still the most common type of voluntary protection if Finland. Likewise, establishing permanent nature reserve is the most common method of protection in Sweden and Norway. Another noticeable difference is the role – with regard to hectares covered - of voluntary protection in Sweden vs. Finland and Norway. In Sweden voluntary protection of forests is implemented in parallel to a more traditional approach, and the area included in protected areas as a result of voluntary protection processes has so far on an annual basis been only about 1-2 % of the total forest area protected each year. The situation in Finland and Norway is completely different. In these countries, protection of privately owned forests is in practice realized entirely by voluntary protection.
Regardless of these differences, voluntary protection is carried out in a rather coherent manner on the ground in the three countries. As a starting point, the environmental or forestry authorities define the type of forests that will be given priority in the selection process. The forest owner then suggests potential areas to be evaluated by the authorities. If the outcome is positive, i.e. the suggested area qualifies for protection, negotiations about the conditions for establishing a protected area start. As an end result, in most cases a permanent protected area is established. Environmental and forestry authorities have a crucial role in the implementation of voluntary protection. However, there are some differences between the countries with regard to the responsibilities of each organisation implementing the forest conservation schemes. For instance, in Norway the main co-operation partners are the environmental authorities and the Forest Owners Association, whereas the forestry administration has only a minor role in the procedure.
The three countries apply more or less the same approach when selecting sites to be included in protected areas according to the principles of voluntary protection. The authorities define criteria for the type of forest areas that are important from a conservation point of view. Ecological features are crucial, such as the occurrence of deadwood, but the need to achieve a balanced regional coverage of protected areas is also considered. For instance, more productive forest areas usually display a higher degree of biodiversity and are therefore often given priority in the selection process. In some cases, the occurrence of red listed species may also influence the selection of areas for protection. All three countries use some type of classification system (points, stars etc.) in order to make priorities between areas that have been suggested to be protected. In Finland the environmental and forestry authorities have used the decision support tool Zonation in order to identify potentially valuable forest areas and to target information about voluntary protection to specific forest owners.
Good and transparent communication between the different stakeholders is one main condition for successful implementation of voluntary protection of forests. Especially the interaction between authorities and land owners is crucial. One main challenge is to reach out to the landowners and clearly communicate to them which types of forest areas are important for nature protection. Websites can provide important overall information but more targeted information efforts are also needed, for instance by using information tools and channels already well-known to landowners.
The concept of voluntary protection has been tested and implemented for more than a decade in Finland, Sweden and Norway. It has produced good and viable results and the concept will be applied also in the years to come. As the number of suggestions of areas to be protected may increase in the future, it is important that the quality of these areas still is sufficient from a nature conservation point of view. It is for instance important to consider the size of the individual sites to be included in the protected area networks. Forest areas will also in the future be set aside by landowners without financial compensation, and it is important that this activity continue. The interest for voluntary protection will probably remain relatively high also in the future. It is therefore important that sufficient resources are allocated to the organisations implementing voluntary protection in the three countries.
A large part of the total area of Finland, Sweden and Norway is covered by forests. In these countries, national strategies and polices for conservation of forests have been agreed on.
The national strategy for protection of forests in Sweden was revised in 2017. In agreement with the strategy an additional total forest area of 90 000 hectares should be guaranteed formal protection by 2020, having the situation in 2016 as a baseline.
In Norway the Parliament has agreed on a quantitative objective for forest protection. The long-term goal is to permanently protect 10 % of the forests in Norway. Currently, the protected area coverage with regard to forests is about 4 %.
In Finland, the protection of forests is implemented according to the objectives of the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland (METSO). If implemented fully, about 100 000 hectares of forests would be added to the network of protected areas by 2025 as compared to the situation in 2008. At the moment about half of this target has been reached.
In Sweden and Norway the governmental funding for formal protection of forests has increased in recent years. In contrast, the funding of the METSO programme in Finland has decreased considerably since 2013-2014. However, in 2018 some additional governmental funds will be allocated to the implementation of METSO.
For more information consult a more detailed report by the Nordic Council of Ministers (in Swedish).
In 2016, IMA Europe added biodiversity & eco-system services as a new award category under its Recognition Award Scheme. Assisted by an independent expert jury, IMA-Europe now awards outstanding initiatives that significantly contribute to biodiversity and ecosystem services, health & safety, innovation and public awareness, Acceptance and Trust. The new IMA Biodiversity Award was welcomed by multiple stakeholders and has become subject of a pilot action under the ELCN LIFE Project.
The first IMA Europe Recognition Award on Biodiversity and Eco-System Services was awarded to Sibelco for its project “Valuing our Natural Capital – A strategy for a strong partnership between mining and biodiversity”. One and a half year later, Amina Langedijk from IMA Europe meets with Cathy Blervacq, Head of Corporate Sustainability, and Inez Goris, Environmental Affairs Manager at Sibelco Europe in Antwerp, eager to find out more about their award-winning project and how it has evolved since 2016.
What impact, if any, did winning the Award have on your organisation?
Winning the IMA Europe Recognition Award for Biodiversity, attributed by an independent Jury, has had a huge impact for the company. Firstly, it represents a drive for the company internally, validating our Sustainability Strategy and reinforcing the uptake of its implementation. Secondly, it resulted in a partnership with Birdlife International. The fact that Boris Barov of Birdlife International had been part of the Jury and attended the Award Ceremony, has allowed for an interesting, informal initial discussion which resulted in exploring a possible collaboration on the implementation of Sibelco’s sustainability strategy. The ensuing collaboration led to local partnerships with Birdlife members in different countries to start implementing the project at the reference sites. And thirdly, encouraged by winning the IMA Europe Biodiversity Award, we submitted an application under the ELO Bee Award Scheme, which Sibelco won as well.
The Jury praised your company strategy, best practice experience and success in putting it together into a systematic toolkit – Can you explain a bit more about the project and what it consists of?
Our Natural Capital Approach is still a fairly recent initiative. It is one of the pillars of the Sibelco Sustainability Strategy which was launched in 2014. Whereas good practices are found throughout Europe – many examples of which had been submitted under the 2016 call for award applications - the launch of the Sustainability Strategy will allow for a more systematic approach towards biodiversity management. We introduced a natural capital approach together with a supportive toolkit to counter-balance negative impacts on nature, showing that sustainable mining can create great opportunities for nature and biodiversity. We then started to apply the natural capital approach and toolkit to six reference sites throughout Europe. The knowledge and expertise being built in the reference sites will be used to inspire other sites.
In addition, two Europe-wide action programmes were launched based on specific land use in Sibelco quarries, before, during or after extraction: A Species Protection Programme for pioneer species related to quarry areas (e.g. amphibians such as the natterjack and yellow-bellied toads, and birds that need steep slopes such as bee-eaters and sand martins) as well as a Calculator for Ecosystem Services (ESS) and Biodiversity.
Inez showed case studies illustrating how they apply the ESS calculator as an effective tool and how it helps them identify the eco-system services and best options for biodiversity taking into account the quarry dynamics. She outlined that the EES calculator will also serve as a great communication tool to present the options to stakeholders in a clear way.
How did you communicate about the IMA Award Scheme? To which audiences and through which channels did you promote it?
The IMA Europe Biodiversity Award has been promoted throughout the entire Sibelco Group – around 10,000 employees worldwide. In each internal communication and in the appropriate context, reference was and is still being made to the IMA Europe Biodiversity Award. So far, we focus mainly on our internal stakeholders and have not promoted it (yet) to external stakeholders, beside mentioning it in our Annual Report.
Do you consider Award Schemes such as the IMA Award Scheme valuable tools for helping to enhance reputation and public acceptance of minerals operations?
Yes, absolutely. Being recognised by an independent Jury and winning the IMA Biodiversity Award may be beneficial in building trust with key stakeholders and to our social license to operate. The start-up of partnerships with Birdlife International for example was considered helpful in facilitating constructive dialogue with the local members of Birdlife, which are often important stakeholders and/or involved in the permitting processes. Establishing good relations with them and enhancing mutual understanding and trust is key. The IMA Biodiversity Award greatly enhanced the visibility of Sibelco’s sustainability strategy. It contributed to Sibelco being perceived as a serious, trustworthy partner. This opened the door for exploring win-win-win possibilities.
Which of the organisational values are expressed through biodiversity actions?
Sustainability is one of Sibelco’s core values. It comprises of ensuring long-term continuity on the one hand and providing added value to our internal and external stakeholders on the other.
How can IMA-Europe encourage participation by member companies?
Participation in the Award Scheme should not be a goal in itself. Yet receiving recognition – notably by an independent Jury – is important and very valorising for the employees managing the project. As mentioned before, for Sibelco the impact has been quite substantial. To encourage or incentivise other companies, and notably SMEs to take part, we suggest foreseeing a small financial prize and increasing the visibility of all the case studies / Award projects. Creating short filmed presentations which could easily be shared and disseminated through social media could be one way, in addition to the poster exhibition and brochure and communication channels used by IMA Europe.
What supporting role do you see for policy makers?
Policy makers could support biodiversity projects by providing subsidies and through EU funded projects (e.g. Life+, Interreg, …).
Will Sibelco take part in the IMA-Europe 2018 Award Scheme?
Yes absolutely! We already have some projects in mind.
On that promising note, Amina warmly thanked Cathy Blervacq and Inez Goris for their time and wished them a lot of success in the next stages of their ambitious sustainability project.
The Call for 2018 Award applications is now open and IMA Europe member organisations can submit their projects until 1 June 2018.
IMA Europe looks forward to receiving further outstanding projects under the 2018 IMA Awards Scheme. They will be assessed and scored by an expert independent Jury during the month of July. We are grateful to be able to count on Dr Tilmann Disselhoff (NABU), Professor Dr Gregory Mahy (Gembloux University) and Professor Dr Michael Rademacher (Bingen University) for this important task.
The Award projects will be presented and exhibited at the IMA Award Ceremony on 4 October 2018 in Brussels.
See the IMA Award website for more information: https://www.ima-europe.eu/award/.
By Amina Langedijk, IMA-Europe
It has been two months since the ILCN Global Congress in Santiago, Chile. If you are interested to see the highlights of the Congress, check out this short Congress Video. The Congress was attended by 160 people representing 24 countries.
Over the course of 24 workshops, three plenaries, and a field trip, participants built relationships across countries and continents, as well as discussed shared challenges and the latest innovations in private land conservation management, policy, governance, and financing.
The 2018 Global Congress built upon the momentum, conversations, collaborations, and relationships that have emerged over the past several years, including at the First Congress of the ILCN, held in Berlin, Germany in October 2015 and at the Workshop on Emerging Innovations in Conservation Finance, held in Santiago in September 2016.
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is looking to fill the position of Land Conservation Program Manager within the Department of Planning and Urban Form - a full-time position focusing on advancing Lincoln's land conservation programs, including the rapidly growing International Land Conservation Network (ILCN).
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy seeks a well-organized and detail-oriented person to fill the position of Land Conservation Program Manager within the Department of Planning and Urban Form. This person requires leadership abilities for the planning and overall success of the Land Conservation Program goals.
As part of the Department of Planning and Urban Form the Land Conservation Program works to advance the importance of land conservation communities sustainability through improved land use planning, management and decision making.
Lincoln Institute makes its impact through research, demonstration projects, and dissemination of the lessons learned and the Institute is known globally for making long term, sustained commitments to the land policy issues on which they work.
Assist and, in appropriate circumstances, take the lead in the development of projects, programs and practices that advance the goals of the Land Conservation Program within the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
At present, the projects that comprise the Land Conservation Program include the following:
For more information read the post on Lincoln Institute website.
The purpose of this Award is to reward excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites and to give the organisations and people concerned "the recognition they deserve".
As such, the Natura 2000 Award also raises awareness about the importance of the Natura 2000 network and its role in safeguarding our European natural heritage, while at the same time promoting social and economic wellbeing.
The 25 finalists have been selected out of 75 eligible applications received from across the EU. Now finalists will be evaluated by the high level Jury, that will decide who will be the winner in each of the 5 Award categories.
The EU Citizens' award will go the finalist who received the highest number of public votes. This category was created to help increase awareness about Natura 2000 among the general public and every year it becomes more popular. The public vote, which is taking place on a dedicated website http://natura2000award-application.eu/ will close on 22 April.
Among the 150 flamingos that landed recently in the Natural Reserve Saline de Priolo on Sicily, there is a very special one – a 38-year-old female Amelie.
Amelie was borne and ringed in 1979. From 1979 to 1982, she remained around the wetlands of Sardinia and then moved to Tunisia. In 1985, she returned to Etg. du Fangassier - Bouches-du-Rhône and until the 2000s did not move from the French territory.
Saline di Priolo, a small reserve managed by Lipu, is the only breeding site for this species in Sicily since 2015. It gives satisfaction to see that, despite the many difficulties in the territory in which the reserve is situated, the important work done by the staff of Lipu, in the redevelopment and conservation of the protected area, delivers very good results. This improves the image of the entire territory of Priory and Syracuse.
Read the whole story on Lipu’s website (in Italian).
Each scholarship is worth €3.000 and enables successful applicants to undertake a study visit on a particular theme to one or more Protected Areas in European countries.
Each year the EUROPARC Federation, with support from the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S., awards three Alfred Toepfer Natural Heritage Scholarships to promising young conservationists, who are committed to working for the benefit of Protected Areas. The aim of the scholarships is to enhance international cooperation and to advance the quality, innovation and European dimension of Protected Area management.
The call is open to all young professionals under the age of 35, studying or working in topics related to Protected Areas in Europe.
The applications are due on 4th May 2018 at 15:00 pm, therefore hurry up and check the terms and conditions and apply on the dedicated Europarc website.
While examples from around the world often showcase examples of superritch people donating funds to conserve land, Europe seems to be taking a different approaches, such as Community Based Agriculture, allowing all citizens to proactively take charge and secure the land and the environment around us.
In their article from December 2017, The Atlantic reported that Jack and Laura Dangermond, the couple that founded the GIS company ESRI, made a donation of $ 165 million to The Nature Conservancy, enabling the NGO to purchase 24,000 acres (9.700 ha) of undeveloped California coastal land for permanent preservation - again an international example of private land conservation on an incredible scale!
As a reaction to this, a reader has shared an example from Europe with a totally different motivation. A German-based cooperative (Kulturland Genossenschaft—German-language site) purchases agricultural land in order to permanently secure it for organic cultivation, leasing it out for a very low fee to the organic, but beyond that socially engaged farms. The project started three years ago and to date 100 hectares for 10 farms have been purchased and thus permanently secured.
A rapid increase in the prices of the agricultural land across the EU in the recent years has driven an accelerated consolidation process where ever greater plots of land are being industrially farmed. This is forcing organic farming to industrialize rapidly as well.
The cooperatives such as this take the money that their members put in and purchases land with it. In addition, they set up, often very successful, crowd-funding campaigns. Learn more about the cooperative above from their campaign video.
Could European model be applied in the US as well?
A large portion of "Pantani of South Eastern Sicily" was purchased by the German Foundation "Stiftung Pro Artenvielfalt" (Pro Biodiversity Foundation - SPA) with the aim of conserving the site for its biodiversity.
This system of coastal lagoons extends along the coast between Pozzallo and Marzamemi (situated between the provinces of Syracuse and Ragusa), forming some of the largest and most representative wetland habitats and ecosystems. Throughout the year, the site offers ideal conditions for resting, feeding and reproduction to an incredible number of animal species: over 250 species of birds, at least 21 species of dragonflies, hundreds of species of insects. This strip of Sicily is in a crucial position along the birds’ migratory route for Africa and represents a very important wintering and nesting area for several very rare species, such as the ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca) and the marbled duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris).
The territory has historically been a subject to indiscriminate hunting and fierce poaching. For years Sicilian protectionists and the German SPA Foundation have been trying to protect this area from negligence and indifference that were jeopardising its enormous potential. Eventually, in just 3 years, the donations of over 29,000 German citizens, motivated by the work of the President of the Foundation, Roland Tischbiere, together with a group of some 30 volunteers from all over Sicily, generated an unprecedented result. The objective of this land acquisition is to stop and remove the negative factors that strongly impacted the area, such as poaching, illegal waste disposal and the disturbance from anthropic activities that are not compatible with the conservation needs of this delicate ecosystem.
In all the activities that have or will require the involvement of specialized firms, companies or workers in general, the Foundation has chosen to entrust the work to local entities, so as to create immediately a positive impact in terms of employment and income for the local community. The goal is to trigger, in the medium term, a broader change to enhance the area: to restore the best natural conditions; to create the conditions for starting a virtuous process that leads to a sustainable local economy linked to naturalistic tourism and agricultural production of excellence.
This story shows that private land conservation initiatives can make a difference in conserving and restoring the most valuable pieces of European nature.
Original article (in Italian) is available here.
XCT is very satisfied with the work carried out by the land stewardship organisations in Catalonia and enthusiastically face future challenges with the belief that, together with its organisations, land stewardship will become a key strategy for the conservation of natural areas.
LIFE-ELCN partner Xarxa de Custòdia del Territori (XCT) has recently published the VIIth Inventory of land stewardship organisations and agreements (only available in Catalan). Data, collected in a report, proves that land stewardship is an effective tool for the conservation of the environment in Catalonia. It also confirms the strengthening of environmental organisations and their growing compromise towards the execution of quality stewardship projects. It registers more than 40,000 hectares managed by 69 organisations through 765 agreements, 76 of which were signed between 2015 and 2017. Notice that stewardship agreements play an important role for the Natura 2000 Network: 44% of the agreements are partially or totally carried out inside the Network. The most common area is forestry, both in the number of agreements (373) and in the surface covered (19,982 ha). Other objectives are associated with the conservation of traditional land management and the fauna. 36% of the agreements include sites of community importance. A large part of the land stewardship agreements are implemented on private properties (531 of the agreements, covering 25,345 ha).
The inventory has been produced since 2003, every 2 or 3 years, based on data provided by the land stewardship organisations operating on the Catalan territory. As a novelty, data collected in this last version is accompanied by the agreements cartography, which can be easily consulted online. The objective of such access to cartography is to provide relevant information about the agreements (surface, start year, duration, overlap with protected areas, detection of habitats of interest, etc.), thus promoting transparency and the dissemination of existing projects.
National Natural Capital Accounts can contribute to initiatives at different scales - such as private land conservation - to improve the quality of life in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is a densely populated country, with a high standard of living and a world-renowned agriculture and food industry. However, intensive land use is putting pressure on the local environment, causing the degradation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Only 14 per cent of the land in the Netherlands is covered in natural or semi-natural vegetation or forests; little is left of the region’s original biodiversity. Therefore, a transition is needed towards a future where companies, government officials and other stakeholders more accurately measure their dependence and impact on natural capital. This will help create a more sustainable society.
Between 2011 and 2014 the Dutch government launched a series of studies and experiments – involving businesses, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the government – to stimulate awareness about and experiences with the values of biodiversity and natural capital. From 2014 to 2016 a research programme on natural capital in The Netherlands investigated the possibility of working with natural capital assessments in practical situations in different policy areas. Also, a start was made with developing tools for assessing natural capital impacts and dependencies for companies, as well as with online platforms for the exchange of information.
These initiatives have stimulated a growing interest from companies, science institutions and other parties. They have also highlighted the need for standardization as well as better access to data and practical tools for natural capital accounting (NCA).
Red the full article here.
The growth of CSA initiatives show that private land conservation is possible even without the help of EU agricultural subsidies!
By connecting producers and consumers through direct marketing, the entire value chain remains in the hand of the land user, enabling him/her to make a living while supporting lively communities and a healthy environment. Think what would be possible if the CAP supported such initiatives…
Although Brussels repeatedly stresses the CAP’s goals should be biodiversity and strong rural communities, it’s still the large-scale farmers who win big in the CAP. Eighty percent of direct payments go to only 20 percent of farms. While it is technically possible to support Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives within the CAP, there is no example of this ever having happened, according to the European Commission.
CSA appeals in many respects to the EU’s cardinal objectives: supporting smaller, often weak, rural communities and a more eco-friendly model. In just six years, 45 such schemes have popped up across the Belgian region of Flanders.
The most obvious way for CSA initiatives apply for funds would be as a “sub measure” under the so-called Pillar 2 of the CAP, dedicated to rural development spending. But most of the CAP budget is poured into Pillar 1, which provides the direct payments to big landowners.
There are numerous reasons for the lack of funding: many young farmers looking to set up small-scale farms that produce organic food and are more integrated into local markets lack the know-how to apply for CAP subsidies. In many cases, this is due to bureaucratic constraints. But critics of the CAP also point to a lack of political will — be it in national capitals or inside the European Commission — to move toward more sustainable farming models.
Read the full article here.
The event will take place in Rovaniemi, Finland, 13 - 15 June 2018 and will be hosted by the European Private Land Conservation Network (ELCN) in cooperation with Lapin ELY-keskus, NABU, and Eurosite.
The workshop will look at private land conservation from more technical perspective. It will investigate the question of how private land conservation can be implemented under the existing EU and national legislation and how new legal instruments could be developed in the future.
More information, including the full programme and registration coming soon on the event page.
The purpose of the Colorado Study Tour was to introduce the ELCN delegates to conservation tools and techniques that are not yet widely applied in the EU and to discuss the potential of their transferability with private land conservation practitioners from the US.
The International Land Conservation Network (ILCN) organised a study trip for the partner European Private Land Conservation Network (ELCN). From Sunday, October 22 through Thursday, October 26, 2017, the ELCN members together with representatives from the ILCN and the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy went on an educational study tour of private land conservation projects around Denver, Colorado. Afterwards, the ELCN members attended the Land Trust Alliance’s annual Rally in Denver from Thursday night, October 26 through Saturday, October 28, 2017.
Over the course of the tour, the ELCN team learned more about the use of easements, particularly on working lands; farming using conservation practices; marketing environmentally friendly products; working with farmers/ranchers (and why they would want to conserve their properties); how conservation can relate to water quantity and quality challenges; partnering with public agencies; and financing conservation areas as well as legal differences between the US (Common law) and most of the European countries (Civil law).
The main pressure on agricultural land in Colorado is due to development for recreation and leisure. However, apart from selling their property to real estate developers, owners generally have a variety of options at hand, from granting conservation easements, to mortgaging, covenants, rent or lease to donation.
On 19 and 20 June 2017 the project team met for the first time to launch the LIFE ELCN project. Beneficiaries and partners set an ambitious goal for the three year project period: to establish a European Land Conservation Network (ELCN), which will remain active long after the project has ended.
On June 19 and 20 2017 the first project team meeting was held in Germany. All project beneficiaries and partners set an ambitious goal for the three year project period: to establish a European Land Conservation Network (ELCN), which will remain active long after the project has ended. The project is being coordinated by NABU/BirdLife Germany, however, Eurosite will be charged with the long-term management of the network as the acting secretariat after the project has ended.
The objective of the project is twofold. It aims at testing several private land conservation tools with an eye to promoting their replication at a wider level wherever feasible and proposing policy actions to support them, as well as – in the process – at developing a robust, well-informed European network on private land conservation with a clear long-term strategy (after LIFE) and strong international allies.
The project’s work programme focuses on implementing and assessing innovative private land conservation tools and models, exchanging knowledge and experience about these tools, identifying legal and political obstacles to up-scaling them, and publicising private land conservation among relevant stakeholders. By doing so, the project intends to contribute to the further development of private land conservation tools and the expansion of their use. At the same time, the project will continue and strengthen the networking among the practitioners of private land conservation in the EU and abroad.
As outputs, the project will produce assessments of the conservation tools tested in the project as well as guidelines and policy recommendations for private land conservation in the EU.
For more information about the progress of the project, please follow this website closely.