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Forest and Nature Conservation Policies in Europe:
Spain, France, Germany and The Netherlands
Management and sustainable use of natural resource are the main issue on policy agenda (EEA, 2005). According to Duhme et al. (1997) nature conservation practice in Central Europe is importantly concerned on protection of nature and preservation of particular species. As a result, the European Commission has passed a common legal framework for nature conservation which based on the Bird and Habitats directive (BfN 2008). In 1997, the Natura 2000 initiative was created on the basis of the bird and habitats directive of European Commission (Keulartz and Leistra 2008).1 Additionally, the establishment of Natura 2000 areas cannot be accomplished without mentioning the contribution of European forest sector (EC 2003). Even though there was not any common comprehensive forest and nature conservation policies at European level, these policies are integrated with other common legal frameworks and policies such as environmental policy and the bird and habitats directive which have an effect on national forest policy of member states (EC 2003). In 1997, the European Commission (EC) issued the “European Union Forestry Strategy” in order to promote cooperation among the member state on forest sector (EC 2003). According to European Commission (2003), multi-functional forestry is the main focus of the strategy because it has integrated the important functions such as ecological, economic, protective and social.
In this paper, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands will be selected as the examples in order to highlight and understand more about the forest and nature conservation policies in Europe. Furthermore, the primary data which based on personal communication with professors, government official, forest owners and other relevant stakeholders were also used to support the literature.
The forest policy of Spain has been developed in the context of forest conservation and reforestation and it has been reformed due to the decentralization of the regional administrative structure (Montiel and Galiana 2005). Consequently, according to Montiel and Galiana (2005), the forest policy models in Spain are different from region to region because they have been developed by relying on regional forest programs. However, forest policy cannot stand alone so in Spain, the forest policy needs to be integrated with other related policies such as land planning policies and other related policies (Montiel and Galian 2005).
For example, forestry has been integrated with pasture management to raise sheep in Llober and this Silvopastural system has been used as the farm management tool for Spanish farmers in this region (Rosario Fanlo, pers.comm, May 8, 2009).
In some regions, the legislations are combined with natural resource management and land planning to ensure sustainable development (Sunyer and Manteiga 2008). Spain has a great diversity of ecosystems from Alpine to Mediterranean regions which made the country become one of the great biodiversity regions in Europe (EC 2003 and Ecologistas en Acción 2008). As a result, the issues related to nature conservation also arise at the same time (Ecologistas en Acción 2008).
To response to the issues, the development of nature conservation policies were made in 2007 and those policies were based on the 1989 Nature Conservation Act (Sunyer and Manteiga 2008). Furthermore, many regional governments have taken into account the Natura 2000 initiative when developing the legislation on environmental and natural protection (EC 2003). However, most nature conservation policies in Spain did not take ecological network into account yet (Sunyer and Manteiga 2008).
For instant, few patches inside El Montseny Natural Park in Barcelona and Girona sector have been designated for Natura 2000 areas (Carlos Colinas, pers.comm, May 4, 2009). Furthermore, the management plan of the park has been established through participation of park authorities, land owners and some other relevant stakeholders. In Alinya (Mountain Reserve in Pyrenees), reintroduction program of black vultures (Aegipyus monachus) has been done to protect and increase the population of the species. Additionally, breeding program has also been introduced to produce more chicks for reintroduction. Ecological Connectivity Corridor has been established between France and Spain to enhance international collaboration for black vulture conservation program in Europe (Frederic Casals, pers.comm, May 7, 2009).
The forest area in France has increased up to 28.6% or 15.71 million hectares of the total metropolitan territory (IFN 2008). To ensure sustainable management of the forest resource, the establishments of legal framework need to be done. Consequently, the development of National Forest Program has been carried out since 2004 by involving all stakeholders and this program will be integrated with national forest biodiversity action plan in the future (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 2005 ). Reforestation program has also been included in its policy in order to rehabilitate the degraded mountain land and abandoned agricultural land (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 2005 and IFN 2008). However, the French forest policy has gone through a long way of reform and forest law was enacted in June 2001 but come into implementation in July 2002 (Chandra Poudel 2006). After the first Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, France started to implement the first related forest conservation policy for forest genetic resource and the main species for this program are beech, silver fir, sessile oak and some other species (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 2005). Since France is the European Union member, the nature conservation policies have to comply with legal framework at European level especially the bird and habitat directive. In addition, the Natura 2000 network is one of the most well known initiatives among the member states. In France, Natura 2000 network has been created to protect biodiversity and currently 201 sites have been designated for special protection areas and 1 226 sites have been proposed for classification in compliance with the two directives (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 2005).
The regional natural park in Orient, Champagne, is example of nature conservation in France. This site has been included in Ramsar Convention due to the complex of pond, lakes, flooded forest and meadows (Annick Genet, pers.comm, May 14, 2009). It is very interesting to know that some ponds are man mad or artificial built.
1 Faculty of Forest Science, University of Joensuu, Joensuu, Finland