Author: Fundación Biodiversidad & MedPAN

The LIFE INDEMARES project has enabled Spain to increase its marine protected surface from 1% to 8% of its waters. Twenty two designations were put in place in the Mediterranean sea.  Fundación Biodiversidad applied for the Natura 2000 Award for this project and was selected as one of the 25 finalists. If the Fundación wins, it will receive the “European Citizens’ Award” that would contribute to consolidating marine conservation efforts. So cast your vote today!  The deadline is on 21st April.

The Natura 2000 Award is designed to reward excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites and showcase the added value of the network for local economies. It pays tribute to all those who are working tirelessly on making Natura 2000 an operational success whilst drawing public attention to its substantial achievements.

Background

Seven years ago, there were around 1,500 terrestrial protected areas but only 181 were in the sea in Spain. The total area declared under Natura 2000 network (the European network of natural protected areas) was around 1% of Spanish territorial waters.

During 6 years, over 150 oceanographic surveys were undertaken to compile the necessary information on marine habitats, seabirds, cetaceans, turtles and other protected species as well as on their threats and pressures across Spanish waters. Around 40 work sessions involving more than 650 representatives of key civil society groups were also held all along the coast in order to gain their support and participation.

Thanks to the work done by over 300 professionals from 23 institutions, enough scientific knowledge was gathered to declare 39 marine sites for the protection of seabirds and 10 for protection of other animals and marine habitats covering altogether 7.3 million hectares. As a result, the protected marine surface of Spain has increased considerably, from just 1% to 8% of all Spanish territorial waters. The activities carried out have been absolutely decisive for the conservation of habitats and marine species of European interest and have contributed substantially to furthering our knowledge of marine biodiversity in Europe.

This effort is being continued by the LIFE IP INTEMARES “Integrated, innovative and participatory management of the Natura 2000 network in the Spanish marine environment” project that is the largest marine conservation initiative in Europe and the first one that combines different European funds for the management of an entire network of protected areas at sea in Spain.

Its main objective is to achieve a consolidated network of marine areas in the Natura 2000 network managed in an effective and integrated way, with the active participation of the sectors involved and knowledge as basic tools for decision-making.

LIFE IP INTEMARES promotes innovative approaches to the marine Natura 2000 network so that these will become benchmark areas, with the involvement of the socio-economic sectors and users of the sea in the management of these areas.