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 Romanian-German Workshop on Natura 2000 Site Appropriate Assessment and Management Planning, Bucharest, NEPA, 15-16 November 2011


Autor: ANPM Bucuresti,
Adăugat: 2011-11-22 09:19:38
Ultima actualizare: 2011-11-22 09:20:43

The management of Natura 2000 sites – the network of protected areas of Community importance that the EU member states must establish, manage and conserve according to the 1992 EU Fauna Flora Habitat Directive – is a rather challenging task which often involves difficult decisions between development planning on the one hand and nature protection objectives on the other. Planning of roads, power plants, other infrastructure measures, major industrial installations, all these activities require an appropriate assessment with regard to their possible impacts on Natura 2000 sites proposed by the national governments to be sites of European importance.

In order to provide an opportunity for an exchange of views and experiences by Romanian and German experts a 2-day workshop was held in Bucharest on 15-16 November2011, jointly organized by the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) of Romania and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The workshop took place at the premises of the NEPA and has been prepared by Vice-President Dr. Marian Proorocu and the team from NEPA’s Department on Biodiversity. Two German experts attended and spoke at the workshop on behalf of the German Federal Ministry: Dr. Lothar Guendling, Attorney at law and for many years working also as expert in Romania, lastly 2005-2009 as Resident Twinning Advisor at the National Environmental Protection Agency in Bucharest, and Dr. Jens Peterson, head of the department for Natura 2000 and protected areas in the State Agency for the Environment of the Land of Sachsen-Anhalt in Germany and who in the past had also participated as expert in twinning projects in Romania.

The experts reported on the practices of Germany with regard to the implementation of the FFH Directive and in a number of presentations addressed specifically the cases of road planning, establishment of wind energy installations, and mining activities. These cases are often controversial, raise difficult issues and often end up in judicial procedures so that the crucial balancing of development aspects and nature protection objectives must be done by courts. The participants on the Romanian side who came from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the NEPA and the 8 Regional Environmental Protection Agency presented the Guidelines prepared for the appropriate assessment according to the Directive and focused on road planning and its possible effects on Natura 2000 sites. As road planning is also one of the “classical” cases of Natura 2000 assessment and management in Germany, a highly interesting discussion took place about the approaches in the two countries and the experiences gained.

The aim behind the FFH Directive is to ensure that plans and projects for development activities take into account the conservation objectives of the Natura 2000 sites. It does not simply mean that plans and projects which may have impacts on the sites need to be avoided; this would be too simplistic an understanding. In practice, the real questions focus on finding the right solutions in the design of the plan or project, the right alternative for a project, the right mitigation measures for the risks identified, and – in case there are no alternatives and the plan or project needs to be carried out anyway for compelling and overriding public interests – on identifying the necessary compensatory measures to make sure that the overall coherence of the Natura 2000 does not suffer. The practice therefore is much more complex and often requires balancing of competing public interests which may be the need of infrastructure, the need of energy supply, or the need to shift from conventional energy sources to renewable energy sources, on the one hand, and nature protection objectives on the other. In many cases the decision of a case comes down to the right compensatory measures for impacts on Natura 2000 sites which cannot be avoided; then it is important to have the possibilities to create or re-create the habitats affected and / or the habitats of affected species, possibly in the vicinity of Natura 2000 sites. A major prerequisite is that the space is available where compensatory measures can be taken, an aspect that needs to be taken into account when the Natura 2000 sites are identified, designated and proposed to the EU institutions and in the subsequent process of communication with the European institutions.

The workshop continued the long-standing, intensive and successful cooperation between Romania and Germany in the field of environment. During the meeting it was also possible to identify issues which could be promising subjects of further expert discussions between the two countries. The Natura 2000 network, its appropriate establishment and its good management constitutes a process involving also intensive communication between the national governments and administrations and the EU Commission; here, the exchange of experiences can be very helpful. Furthermore, such exchange of experiences provides also the chance to achieve the coherent network of protected areas in Europe and the coherent way of managing this network in all member states which after all, are the guiding principles behind the FFH Directive, a milestone in the environmental policy of the European Union.


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