Is plenty of good still good? Assessing territorial impacts of Natura 2000 in a biodiversity hot spot country

2013 EEEN Forum

Prof. Mojca Golobic, University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical faculty, Department of Landscape Architecture

Dr. Naja Marot, Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia

Spela Kolaric, University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical faculty, Department of Landscape Architecture

Network Natura 2000 has been for two decades the most important measure of biodiversity protection policy, introduced by two EU Directives. Transposition of the policy to the national legislation brought quite diverse outcomes. Slovenia for example designated 35.5% of national territory, the highest share of all member states. This generous decision was taken in a fast and non-transparent designation process under pressure of accession, and resulted in Natura2000 being one of the most controversial policies in Slovenia. Territorial impact assessment (TIA) is one of the recently developed tools aimed at supporting optimization of EU policies and their implementation across territorial levels. Taking territorial cohesion and/or national territorial development policies as reference framework for evaluation of impacts, TIA covers environmental, territorial (e. g. land use, settlement organization), economic, social and administrative impacts. As such it broadens the scope of assessment of traditional (S)EIA, yet even more importantly it aims to adapt the policy implementation to the context of affected territorial units. The contribution presents TIA approach as developed within an international ESPON project EATIA and the results of its testing on impact of Natura 2000 in Slovenia as assessed on NUTS3 level. The impacts were evaluated in collaboration with experts, administrators and policy makers on national and local levels. The results have shown that impacts depend on regional context and were most negative in regions with high share of protected areas overlapping with areas of high development potential. Most of the identified negative effects refer to increased administrative burdens and constraint to the use of renewables, e. g. locating the new wind and hydro power plants. On the other hand, society is benefiting from gaining the new knowledge and increased awareness on biodiversity, improved quality of life.

As a conclusion we argue that a more open and systematically organized approach to transposition might have prevented a lot of the negative effects. An opportunity to do better is just at hand with the Natura 2000 under revision process.


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