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The Natura 2000 network is the key instrument of the EU’s nature and biodiversity policy that works to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitat types. Becoming a reality in all EU Member States and stretching over 18 % of the EU’s land area and almost 6 % of its marine territory, it comprises the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world, and its extension is envisaged in all potential EU Member States.
Montenegrin needs and the obligations in establishment of Natura 2000 network, were the topics of the Conference “Natura 2000: next steps for Montenegro”, held on 11th April in Podgorica. The main results of the successfully finalised EU project Natura 2000 have been presented, as well as conclusions and perspectives in future process of EU accession.
“Montenegro has, through the EU accession process, committed itself to joining this network. However, mapping all of Montenegro's land and species is not an easy task and cannot be done “behind a desk”. This is where the EU comes in to help. Over the last 3 years, we have been implementing a project, worth more than 2 million euros, to support the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism and the Nature and Environment Protection Agency to lay strong foundations for the Natura 2000 network.“ EU Ambassador to Montenegro Aivo Orav said.
The preparation for Natura 2000 is quite a complex, lengthy process which requires specific capacities, expertise, organization and funding. Without full meeting the requirements of the preparatory steps due prior to the accession, no Candidate Country can be allowed to join the EU.
“The project offered the know-how of renowned experts from Europe, unfortunately, this opportunity was not seized. It is also regrettable that the National Parks of Montenegro did not participated in the project. EU projects are here to support the work of the institutions, but cannot complete the work on their behalf. It is now for the government to take ownership, deliver on its commitments, and step up efforts in the field of environmental protection.“ ambassador Orav said.
With the realization of the Project, financed by EU with 2 million, foundations for the establishment of the Natura 2000 network according to the requirements of the EU nature directives have been laid
“The future challenge will be in the hands of the Montenegrin authorities to integrate the results of the Natura 2000 Project into their day-to-day work and to follow the recommendations proposed in the ‘Roadmap’ for the establishment of the Natura 2000 network by the date of EU accession”, concluded the Team Leader Sissi Samec.
Natura 2000 is not a system of strict nature reserves from which all human activities would be excluded. The approach to conservation and sustainable use is much wider, largely centered on people working with nature. Although Natura 2000 sites are selected strictly by scientific criteria, the Member States have to ensure their management in a sustainable manner, both ecologically and economically.