Stakeholders have varying perceptions about the consequences of the policy for Natura 2000 sites, but there are few differences between countries. This is the outcome of a survey by Wageningen Environmental Research in England, Flanders, France and the Netherlands.
All the countries of the European Union contain sites that are part of the Natura 2000 network of protected area. Many parties are involved in the management of these sites, such as private landowners, conservation management organisations, water authorities and regional and local authorities. This management requires good discussion and coordination between the various parties involved.
To find out how these parties view the Natura 2000 policy a survey was conducted among stakeholders involved in the management planning process or the actual management of more than 90 Natura 2000 sites in England, Flanders, France and the Netherlands. The survey was carried out in spring 2015. In general, most respondents said the number of management measures in the sites has increased.
The survey results also show that the respondents have diverging perceptions about the consequences of the policy, especially when they were presented with statements concerning discussions about the management plan and management measures and about the impact of the Natura 2000 policy. The farming community in particular feels that their views are not always listened to and expect the policy to have a negative impact on the local economy. This underlines the importance of involving the different parties in the evaluation of the policy.
Differences between countries
In general, the differences between England, Flanders, France and the Netherlands were slight. The only clear differences between countries were on the dialogue between government and stakeholders about the management of the sites. The Flemish respondents were more negative about the management dialogue than respondents from the other three countries.
The survey serves as background study for the Nature Outlook by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, which will be published early 2017.