Оn Wednesday, 13th November 2019, a workshop on conservation measures that benefit pollinators applied under the Nature Directives in Natura 2000 sites took place in the Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV) of the European Commission, Brussels, Belgium.
The event was organized by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) European Regional Office. IUCN Europe provides key links to EU institutions and is the focal point for Europe’s nature policies and partnerships.
In recent years, public attention has been drawn to the plight of bee populations, which have seen losses across the EU and around the world. Behind this widely publicized phenomenon is a problem of a much larger scale, namely the drastic deterioration in the numbers and diversity of all European wild insect pollinators, including wild bees, marsupials, butterflies and moths. Many types of pollinators have disappeared or are threatened with extinction.
This is a serious concern, as pollinators are an integral part of healthy ecosystems. Without them, the status of many plant species would deteriorate and they would eventually disappear with their dependent organisms, with severe environmental, social and economic consequences.
The workshop moderator was Catarina Ferreira, European Biodiversity Conservation Coordinator. Experts from all European countries participated. A representative of the Via Pontica Foundation also took part.
The workshop started with “Introductory remarks and purpose of the workshop” by Micheal O’Briain (DG ENV, EC, Belgium). The following topics were discussed in the morning session:
-Overview of the EU Pollinators Initiative– Vujadin Kovacevic (DG ENV, EC, Belgium)
-Plant-pollinator network diversity in calcareous grasslands – Natasha de Manicor (University of Lille, France)
-Habitats action plans for calcareous grasslands (6210) and European dry heaths (4030) highlighting elements relevant for pollinators – Evelyn Underwood (IEEP, Belgium)
-Butterfly trends and conservation outside and within Natura 2000 sites – Irma Wynhoff (BCE, UK)
-Motivating site managers to implement pollinator friendly practices in Natura 2000 sites – Sébastien Husse (Parc Naturel Régional de Lorraine, France)
-Contributions of result based schemes to pollinators conservation in Natura 2000 sites : the case of the Tarnava Mare and Pogány Havas Regions in Romania – Răzvan Popa (Fundatia Adept, Romania)
-Biodiversity and specific conservation measures in agrarian landscapes to benefit pollinators. LIFE Food & Biodiversity – Vanessa Sánchez (Fundación Global Nature, Spain)
-Working with farmers to improve conditions for wild bees in Natura 2000 sites – Anne Erland Eskildsen (Danish Agriculture & Food Council F.m.b.A., SEGES)
After lunch, breakout sessions took place. The approx. duration for each session was 40 min and each session comprised approx. 14 participants. The participants were rotated among the 3 breakout groups, thereby ensuring that they provide their insights to all of the questions. Each of the groups was composed of a mix of stakeholders. The goal of these moderated discussions and breakout groups was to identify best management practices for pollinators, synergies with private sector and local stakeholders, and discuss effectiveness and feasibility of conservation measures and management approaches applied in N2K sites under the Nature Directives for conservation of pollinators and their common habitats.
Inna Agafonova, founder and chairman of the board of the Via Pontica Foundation said that almost all participants concluded that it is important to improve the knowledge about pollinators and the causes and consequences of their deterioration and point to intensive agricultural management and use of pesticides as the most significant threats to pollinators. Other threats, such as urbanization, pollution, invasive alien species, diseases and climate change, were also identified as significant by most participants.
Experts at the seminar emphasized the restoration and maintenance of pollinator habitats in rural and urban environments and overcoming the pesticide-related threat to pollinators. The majority of experts identify the Habitats Directive and the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy as key instruments for the protection and support of pollinator habitats.
All participants in the seminar emphasized the importance of raising awareness, involving public participation in decisions and facilitating cooperation and sharing of knowledge, as well as the need for an EU initiative to support action at national, regional and local level.