European DG ENV, CINEA, NEEMO and Life Integrated project Marha (Marine Habitats) have great pleasure in inviting you to the 2022 Platform Meeting which will focus on the terms of implementation of Strictly protected marine areas in Member States, as part of EU biodiversity strategy 2030.

The expected outputs of the meeting include:

  • Make an inventory of implementation means of strict protection at sea in Member States: a survey will be conducted therefore, prior to the platform meeting (starting in July 2021), among relevant focal points in Member States.
  • Share positive or negative experiences to learn lessons in order to improve the implementation of this policy.
  • Understand the problems and help each other by exchanging feedback
  • Produce a support document for those who plan to undertake a strict local or regional protection approach.
  • Provide decision-makers with extensive comprehension of strict protection stakes and implementation challenges.

DATE, VENUE AND REGISTRATION

The 2022 Platform Meeting will be held on March 22nd- 24th, in La Rochelle, France.

The platform meeting will also be broadcasted by videoconference.

A website will shortly be made available to register; it will also provide all the needed organizational information.

BACKGROUND

The  European  Commission  adopted,  on  20  May  2020,  a  Communication  on  an  “EU Biodiversity  Strategy  for  2030 – Bringing  nature  back  into  our  lives”.

This Strategy sets an ambitious objective of establishing a truly coherent Trans-European Nature Network, to include legal protection for at least 30% of the land, including inland waters, and 30% of the sea in the EU, of which at least 1/3 (10% of land and 10% of sea) to be under strict protection. These targets have been welcomed by the EU Council and supported by an own-initiative report of the European Parliament.

The Commission produced in October 2020 a draft note on criteria and guidance for protected areas designation, which includes a definition of strict protection for the purpose of the implementation of the targets set in the strategy. Member States and stakeholders have had the opportunity to discuss successive drafts of this note, which is expected to be agreed before the end of 2021.

A draft definition of strictly protected areas could read as follows: “Strictly protected areas are fully and legally protected areas designated to conserve (and/or restore) the integrity of biodiversity-rich natural areas with their underlying ecological structure and supporting natural environmental processes. Natural processes are therefore left essentially undisturbed from human activity”.

Strict protection is not an end in itself, but should be applied in areas hosting natural features which can thrive through natural processes.

The condition that natural processes should be left essentially undisturbed means that many strictly protected areas will be non-intervention areas, where only limited and well-controlled activities that do not interfere with natural processes will be allowed. Such activities may, in many cases, include scientific research, natural disaster prevention, invasive alien species control, non-intrusive activities and installations, non-intrusive and strictly controlled tourism, when such activities are compatible with the conservation objectives of the areas on the basis of a case by case assessment.

In addition, strictly protected areas may also be areas in which active management sustains or enhances natural processes. In these cases, management activities should be limited to those necessary for the restoration and/or conservation of the habitats and species for whose protection the area has been designated. Instead, activities that interfere with natural processes by not sustaining or enhancing them should not be allowed.

Activities authorised in strictly protected areas should also include those that are necessary for the restoration of the natural values of the areas in question, as well as activities linked to small-scale subsistence resource use for indigenous people, provided that such activities do not interfere significantly with the conservation objectives of the area.

Strictly protected areas already exist in most Member States, sometimes with different designations and with varying degrees of “strictness” (included in the zoning of protected areas, or through designations such as nature reserves, scientific reserves, marine “no-take zones”, etc.).

On the basis of this work on the definition of strictly protected areas, the Commission would like Life IP Marha to work on the organization of an analysed synthesis of national experiences on implementation of this type of strict protection.

This synthesis aims to make a report on:

  • Areas in Member State which are considered to fit to the definition of strictly protected areas agreed between Commission and Member States specifying the main criteria for each zone (starting from on IUCN categories) in order to be able to compare the levels of protection.
  • Procedures chosen by each state to meet the European objective of 10% of maritime area under strict protection, by specifying the legal tools chosen, as well as the method (size, target assets, connection, links with marine protected areas (MPA), consultation, communication, management, control, monitoring, etc.).

This synthesis will then be presented and discussed during the Life platform meeting itself. The meeting will thus aim at sharing experiences and capitalising on best practices and lessons learned, as well as at providing decision-makers with adequate comprehension of the topic, and keys to adjust the legal context as will be deemed necessary.

You can now offer to participate in the survey if you have set up a strictly protected area at sea, submit a communication for publication and / or presentation during the platform meeting or a poster. For this you can contact the organisers while waiting for the opening of the dedicated website : Alain Pibot, Life Marha Project Manager (alain.pibot@ofb.gouv.fr), Ségolène Fabre, European actions coordinator for the Life Marha project (segolene.fabre@ofb.gouv.fr)  et Phénia Marras, Marine Adviser & international relations (phenia.marras@ofb.gouv.fr).