In Europe, as in the rest of the world, human activities are causing rapid biodiversity loss. Over the last two decades, the EU has been trying to tackle this in various ways, including through the Natura 2000 Network of protected areas. This includes over 27 000 protected areas, covering over million km2, making it the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. The Natura 2000 Network creates a framework for mainstreaming conservation into a range of sectors. The European Commission led the development of the Natura 2000 Network.
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During the “Urban National Parks in Emerging Countries” (UNPEC) research program, funded by the ANR (the french National Research Agency), the Urban Protected Areas Network have worked in partnership with the national parks and the cities in Rio, Cape Town, Mumbai, Nairobi. We have identified three main types of park’s dynamics:
South Africa’s Cape Floral Region (CFR) is one of the world’s great centres of terrestrial biodiversity. It is home to nearly 20% of Africa’s flora, while covering less than 0.5% of the continent’s area. The wetlands in this sensitive area face particular threats, including from development and agriculture, as the region is also home to farms growing around 95% of South Africa’s wine. On-farm conservation measures are therefore vital to protect the outstanding diversity, density and endemism of the biodiversity of the CFR.
There are instances where tourism can support conservation efforts. Environmental certification, if appropriately designed for the Pacific region, could direct tourism development in the right direction. The proposed Blue Star environmental tourism certification is being developed with the Pacific in mind.
What are the solutions – from the perspective of industry?
Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) dramatically improved its ability to link its priority conservation tasks with the sustainable development needs of Cape Town and its citizens, to the advantage of both the Park and the City’s citizens. This story illustrates the importance of a functioning governance system and a commitment to finding mutual interest between the goals of conservation and development.
A protected area’s concession function can help it to achieve many goals, including generating income for protected areas, contributing to economic and rural development, managing overuse and impacts, protecting resources, enhancing conservation, and economic empowerment of people living in and around the protected area.
Many, if not most, extractive and industrial companies own portions of undisturbed or less disturbed landscapes which are not actively utilized for the company’s core business. By consolidating such areas, establishing their potential ecological contribution, initiating projects to improve the present ecological state and managing these lands as a protected area, such lands can contribute significantly to the sustainability profile of a company.
The biodiversity assets of Southern Africa are globally recognized as exceptional. The protection of these unique landscapes, and their associated flora and fauna, is a high priority on the political and sustainability agenda. The Diamond Route project demonstrates that, regardless of the industry, businesses need not impose a limit on their efforts to contribute positively to the creation, expansion, conservation, management and restoration of Southern Africa's natural capital base.
In order to address the challenge of tourism in protected areas, ISO is providing an international standard, ISO 18065 for Natural Protected Areas Authorities (NPAA) - responsible for ensuring the efficient, sustainable planning and development of tourist services conforming to legal requirements. Risk assessments promote the safety of the visitor and quality assessment of services mitigates impacts upon NPA’s wildlife, flora, fauna and communities. Public use, tourism and recreation can be part of the objectives of a NPA.