Europe's Nature Conservation Policy: how did we get there?
Hugé, J., Merken, R. and Koedam, N. (2018). Europe's Nature Conservation Policy: how did we get there?. 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology. doi: 10.17011/conference/eccb2018/107426
© the Authors, 2018
Biodiversity loss is caused by both local and higher-level environmental and governance trends, hence the response mechanisms for the conservation of biodiversity should also be of a multi-level nature. The European Union’s biodiversity conservation policy materializes through the Birds and Habitat Directives (dating from 1979 and 1992 respectively), which were designed to create a coherent network of protected areas known as Natura 2000, as well as a system of species protection. These Directives need to be implemented at member state-level. Both Directives were submitted to a so-called ‘fitness check’ in 2016, which they passed, meaning that their effectiveness and usefulness was confirmed. We performed an analysis of the emergence of the EU conservation policy, to identify the policy arrangements that allowed the development of this contentious legislation in a time when biodiversity conservation issues were not as prevalent as today. Data were gathered among key actors who shaped the Birds and Habitat Directives, and hence laid the basis for Europe’s current nature conservation policy. We used the policy arrangement approach (PAA) to adequately reconstruct past decision-making processes and interpret the (change in) policy arrangements. The legislative process was mostly confined to an 'epistemic community' of scientists, activists and policy-makers without direct participation of other socio-economical actors. This top-down, technocratic policy process was common at the time and contrasts with current policy arrangements. The rules of the game changed over time and a few individual policy entrepreneurs, appeared to be crucial for the realization of both Directives, as well for its eventual features. The EU nature conservation policy could be inspiring for other regions and/or supranational contexts, while current and future challenges to biodiversity conservation will demand continuation and stepping up the efforts of the EU and its Member States.
PublisherOpen Science Centre, University of Jyväskylä
ConferenceECCB2018: 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology. 12th - 15th of June 2018, Jyväskylä, Finland
MetadataShow full item record
- ECCB 2018 
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