Sweden mulls new ways to conserve nature

Brainstorming session ends with call for more local management, stress on periurban areas

Substantial changes are needed to make Sweden's nature conservation policies more appropriate for the coming century, according to delegates to a two-day "brainstorming" session organised by the environment ministry which ended yesterday. The meeting was called to identify priorities for substantially increased public spending on nature conservation: this doubled to SKr360m (euros 40.2m) under this year's budget, and will rise to SKr500m a year from 2001 (ENDS Daily 14 April). Delegates recommended that more resources be directed to areas in and near cities, to reflect Sweden's growing urbanisation. They also questioned the continuing relevance of the concept of biological diversity, which has been central to the campaign for sustainable development over the past 10 years. One alternative gaining a lot of support at the meeting, according to a ministry spokesperson, was an embryonic approach focusing on "conserving the functions of an ecosystem, such as a forest, from a more societal point of view." This could be important for securing continued public interest and support, he said. The 68 delegates - representing national, regional and local government, academics, industry and environmental organisations - also agreed on the need for more local management of national parks, which now take up more space than farming in Sweden.

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