CEE countries discuss habitat protection

Seminar stresses good management of Natura 2000 network essential to maintain standards

Central and eastern European (CEE) countries must aim for early transposition of the EU directives on birds and habitats, EU conservation experts stressed to accession countries last week. They were speaking at a two-day seminar in Hungary on the legal, management and financial aspects of the EU's proposed Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas. The meeting heard that while the CEE countries' environmental performance leaves a lot to be desired, their record on nature conservation is better than many of their EU neighbours. Legislators are also aware of the threat that further economic development spurred by EU accession will bring to the region's wildlife. "In environmental terms it will be necessary to ask for prolonged deadlines for implementation, but in nature conservation all these countries have new legislation," noted Mihaly Vegh, who heads the European Centre for Nature Conservation's central and eastern European unit. Countries will need to consider which of their endemic species should be added to EU legislation on endangered species and habitats. They will also need to address issues of enforcement. EU experts are currently involved in providing help on such issues as management of protected areas and are in negotiations with stakeholders, including farmers, private individuals and companies. A similar workshop will be held next month in Krakow.

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