Private landowners, what role for Europe’s nature?

On 5 February, MEP Karl-Heinz FLORENZ, President of the Biodiversity, Hunting and Countryside Intergroup of the European Parliament, has hosted an event in the European Parliament: Private landowners, what role for Europe’s nature? The event was an excellent opportunity to present the work of two ongoing LIFE Preparatory projects working on fostering and better institutionalisation of Private Land Conservation in Europe: Land Is Forever (LIFE LIFE) and European Private Land Conservation Network (LIFE ELCN).

Both projects have presented their work and plans for the future to a broad audience (more than 100 participants) of interested MEPs, representatives of European Commission and other interested organisations.

Mr. Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director Natural Capital, DG ENVI, European Commission gave a general introduction on the Commission’s vision on and the expectations from private land conservation in Europe, as an additional tool to statutory conservation and as a mechanism to enable the private land owners to have a more active role in the management of nature.

Mr. Jim Levitt, Director of International Land Conservation Network (ILCN), and Mrs. Marianne Kleiberg, Regional Managing Director Europe for The Nature Conservancy (TNC), have explained the global context for the work on private land conservation, and especially the link with the work land trusts are doing in the US. ILCN and TNC are supporting the work of the two LIFE projects LIFE ELCN and LIFE LIFE respectively.

Dr. Stig Johansson, Director, Parks & Wildlife Finland has offered a perspective of an EU Member State on what are the benefits of private land conservation. Mr Angelo Salsi, head of the LIFE & CIP Eco-Innovation unit of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (EASME) emphasized the need for everyone to work together and has underlined the need to make the European Private Land Conservation Network self-sustainable after the end of the two LIFE projects.

The event was an excellent opportunity for both project leaders. Dr. Tilmann Disselhoff, NABU, Germany, and Ms. Anne-Sophie Mulier, ELO, to send the message that we intend to join forces and work together towards creating a single network for the benefit of private land conservation in Europe. Combining the knowledge of conservation NGOs and the land of private land owners is the best way to ensure the necessary public recognition and broad political support.