EU LIFE Programme benefits Europe’s nature

During the EU Green Week in October 2020 the European Commission published its latest assessment of the state of nature in the European Union. It provides a comprehensive overview of the situation of Europe’s most vulnerable species and habitats protected under EU nature laws

The assessment – based on a more detailed technical report of the European Environment Agency – shows that while there are protected species and habitats that are managing to hold the line despite being subject to major pressure, the majority have poor or bad status at EU level, with some showing continued deteriorating trends.

The report also shows that targeted conservation action brings results. The Iberian lynx, the forest reindeer and the otter, each of which has been targeted by major conservation projects, are now recovering. Initiatives under the EU LIFE programme – the EU’s key funding source for nature, and the Natura 2000 network with its 27,000 sites continue to have a positive influence, but this needs to be scaled up considerably.

This conclusion is underpinned by a detailed technical study which showed that great achievements are observed at local and regional levels. A brochure offers a more accessible version of the study.

As part of an assignment with NEEMO in support of the LIFE Programme Delbaere Consulting led the technical study, contributed to the brochure, moderated the Green Week session on the LIFE programme and provided a minor input to the 2020 State of Nature in the EU report.

LIFE Programme at EU Green Week 2020

From 20 to 23 October the European Union holds its annual Green Week High Level Conference. This year the EU Green Week focuses on nature and biodiversity. One of the many sessions is on the EU LIFE Programme and what it has achieved for nature conservation in Europe. I have the honour to moderate this session. READ MORE

Briefing policymakers on reforestation

With the BiodivERsA-funded forest research project SPONFOREST coming to an end, Delbaere Consulting has been tasked to write a policy brief and identify outreach channels. This will help communicate the project’s key messages on spontaneous reforestation to selected policymakers and other stakeholders.

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Input to new European biodiversity policy

In a new assignment with the European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity (ETC/BD), Delbaere Consulting will support this year’s developments regarding new European biodiversity policy by producing an indicator folder and a strategic document for the ETC/BD.

At the close of the year

When starting as an independent ecologist, now three years ago, one of the first things I did was developing this website. While checking it the other day I saw that I profiled myself as ‘making connections between policy, science, practice and business for the conservation of biodiversity’. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing, also in the past year. In all of the assignments I had there’s an element of this interfacing between disciplines, themes, sectors, actors and levels, which I happen to like a lot.


New article about biodiversity garden

In the latest issue of the magazine GROEN (for professionals in spatial planning for cities and landscapes) I write in an article about the development of the Reitse Tuin. This biodiversity garden in Tilburg has developed into a species rich oasis in the city and an attraction for locals and passers-by. It is also a place that helps Tilburg adapt to a changing climate. The article covers the initiation and development process and takes stock of progress and achievements.

I am proud to have been at the cradle of this piece of urban nature, together with Van Spaendonck Ondernemingshuis, Tilburg municipality, Van Hall Larenstein University, Brouwers Groenaannemers and the Province of Noord-Brabant.


Photo: Bart van Hattem

About a bus and busy bees

Sustainability is not only about the environment, but also about people and money.

With regard to people, and following the credo ‘ecology with an accent’, Delbaere Consulting has now supported the purchase of a small bus for the day care home Stichting Appelbloesem.READ MORE

Measuring the state of biodiversity of Tilburg

Following my proposal for a local biodiversity monitoring network the municipality of Tilburg (the Netherlands) has contracted me to carry out a biodiversity baseline measurement. This will be done on the basis of existing data. Such measurement will form the basis for identifying future trends in biodiversity and will help testing and refining the proposed approach.


Talking about nature with agrisector senior managers

At the occasion of the annual meeting of over 60 senior managers of Lely holding, an international agrisector company, I presented the link between agriculture and nature, both in terms of impacts and in terms of possible solutions for more nature friendly farming. This was part of a visit of the representatives to an organic farm and its automation processes in Tilburg, the Netherlands.


Photo: Ben Delbaere

How effective is EU policy on invasive alien species?

Delbaere Consulting is now part of an international team that will assess the effectiveness of the EU Regulation on invasive alien species. In a new assignment with Wageningen Environmental Research I will develop an approach to assess the Regulation, recommend ways to communicate about results, and propose methods to align data collection on invasive alien species with that of other EU nature and environment policies. In the coming two years the team will work towards answering the question whether the Regulation is effective in helping to reduce the adverse impact of invasive alien species on biodiversity.


Delbaere Consulting to support Europe’s largest nature treaty

Following a call for tenders in 2017, Delbaere Consulting was awarded a service contract to support the European Bern Convention on European wildlife and natural habitats. Being one out of ten selected consultants Europe-wide services will include research-based advice, monitoring, and support for awareness raising and communication.

Assessing the ecological impact of a planned road

In a new assignment starting this month I will carry out the ecological assessment of possible impacts of a planned road on species and habitats in a European protected area. In collaboration with local land owners and other stakeholders we’ll propose measures to compensate any negative impacts.


Urban green infrastructure? What is that all about? Well, it’s a slightly technical term to refer to the whole set of green features in cities that together form the infrastructure via which plants and animals move around and survive. Think of city parks, gardens, road verges, green walls and roofs, and water courses. It’s the green analogue of grey infrastructure, the complex of roads, buildings and other structures in asphalt, concrete and stone  via which people in which people live and move around.READ MORE

New book about nature in Brabant

On 24 November a new reference book about nature in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant was published. The book, Natuurgebieden in Noord-Brabant: Ontstaan, Ontginning en Natuurontwikkeling (Nature areas in North-Brabant: origin, exploitation, and nature restoration), is the result of three years of writing by some 30 experts, most of whom are members of the Ecological Society Middle Brabant. The first copy of the book was offered to the Governor of the province, Mr Wim van de Donk. This happened at the Brabant Natural History Museum in Tilburg at the occasion of the 85 years jubilee of the site managing organisation Brabants Landschap.READ MORE

Europe’s jungles need our care

Did you know that Europe still hosts a number of ancient woodlands? Forests that have not been touched by humans for centuries and that are regarded as pristine. These jungles – or old growth forests to use more technical jargon – are mainly located in the eastern part of Europe. Together, they cover less than 1% of the European Union territory. They however are home to over 10,000 species of plants, animals and other species. This is a modest estimate, as much remains unknown for example on soil biodiversity. Some of these species, like Brown bear and Lynx, are very iconic and seldom seen. Other species find their last shelter in these remote jungles.READ MORE

Supporting the Biodiversity Information System for Europe

I’m delighted to continue my long-standing cooperation with the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, under contract to the European Environment Agency. Starting this week under a new assignment I will help improve access to biodiversity information in Europe.

Pursuing benefits for nature and society

The summary for policy makers of this year’s ALTER-Net conference is now published. Titled ‘Pursuing benefits for nature and society’ the policy brief formulates five key messages from Europe’s ecosystem research community in support of identifying synergies and reducing conflicts between nature and society.READ MORE

Greening an office building

In a new assignment, I will offer ecological advice to Corpac House in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Continuing work from my time with ECNC in previous years, I will engage as ‘ecology champion’ to support the renovation of the Corpac building, an office building in the centre of the town. This renovation adheres to the BREEAM sustainability standards, which include a chapter on fauna and flora. Also the surrounding biodiversity garden, established in 2010, will be fully integrated in the renovation process and monitored by me.

Counting butterflies

As of today I can start counting butterflies again! At least according to the protocol of the national monitoring network butterflies. The Netherlands Butterfly Foundation coordinates this network since the 1990s (and there are comparable networks across Europe). Since about 15 years I’m one of the 500-odd volunteers who from April till September every week walk a fixed route of about one kilometre to count the butterflies. All results are nationally collected and processed.READ MORE