The European Union (EU) protects over 27,000 natural areas that are of special European importance. The network, called Natura 2000, is set up to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats, as listed in the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. Since 1992 the EU also provides funding, through the LIFE Programme, to support action for protection, restoration and communication for Natura 2000. These billions of euros need to be invested well and restoration measures taken must be effective and efficient. Monitoring of activities, results and impacts is required for such assessments.
The NEEMO consortium carries out the monitoring activities for the LIFE Programme, under contract to the European Commission and its Executive Agency for SMEs. My role in this contract is to support the team of technical experts to monitor LIFE Nature projects in the Benelux.
The focus of my work is on monitoring a number of ‘traditional’ nature projects in the Benelux, focusing on a specific natural area and with a concrete plan of actions to restore selected species and habitats. In addition, I monitor ‘integrated projects’. These are nation-wide strategic programmes that have been designed to give a strong impetus to stepping up the implementation of Natura 2000. This is urgently needed because biodiversity in Europe is in general terms still in decline, as is demonstrated among others by the European Environment Agency’s State of Nature report. The integrated projects also look at wider benefits of conservation, for example in connection with flood prevention or water purification. Given their strategic nature they focus more on abstract processes, such as governance, stakeholder engagement, and communication.
Apart from project monitoring I am NEEMO’s central contact point on ecosystem services and green infrastructure, I contribute to publications and presentations, and I facilitate meetings, like for example the session on the LIFE Programme at the EU Green Week 2020.