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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European countries are planning massive investments in renewable energy, which will mean that many more transmission lines will be needed to transport the energy produced. This is essential for reducing carbon emissions, but without careful planning, transmission lines can create a range of risks for biodiversity. The Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) was launched in 2009 as a neutral platform, enabling Transmission System Operators (TSOs) and NGOs from across Europe to come together as equal partners.
A conceptual framework based on accounting principles of stocks, flows, and investment can be applied to natural capital, social and cultural capital, human capital and financial and physical capitals. Development and application of this framework can help to reveal the environmental, social and economic impacts and interactions of prevailing land use (or other management) practices, and provide a way of assessing the effectiveness of different programmes for achieving desired management objectives.
In the Netherlands, a coalition of multinational and large Dutch companies is taking steps to make their impact on natural and social capital visible throughout their entire value chain, with the help of civil society organizations. This unique initiative of companies, NGOs and the government teaming-up. Their ambition is formalized in a "Green Deal" signed by IUCN-NL, True Price, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Netherlands and the Dutch government. The Green Deal is linked to the global Natural Capital Protocol.
Australia has a growing national network of protected areas (PAs) known as the National Reserve System (NRS) which extends over two (of many) exceptional World Heritage Areas (WHAs) in Australia’s north east: the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and the Wet Tropical Rainforests of Queensland (WT). Biodiversity conservation (under legal protections of varying strictness) and multiple uses (set out by zoning and related regulations) apply in both the GBR WHA and the WT WHA.
One of the possibilities for recognizing the interdependence of humans and nature is through values and a framework of ethics. In the case of freshwater in New Zealand, various legal solutions have been proposed to settle Maori interests in water. One solution is the vesting of water as a ‘person’ in law, as in Whanganui and Te Urewera. The proposed sale of a hydroelectric company's state assets triggered a Maori claim to activate recognition of Maori interests in fresh water. The case took the argument that sales cannot proceed until Maori interests are settled.
Australia’s National Landscapes programme was inspired by the need to make Australia’s wealth of protected areas digestible for visitors, to differentiate the best natural and cultural destinations and improve the delivery of their experiences. It provides a framework for regional partners to collaborate in considering new tourism projects, infrastructure needs, conservation impacts and marketing.
More than one third of all land in New Zealand is managed by the Department of Conservation as public conservation land. New Zealand is facing significant challenges in reconciling development proposals in these protected areas. The Department of Conservation manages development proposals in protected areas containing high conservation values using a legislative framework of planning and permitting processes. This process provides robust advice to decision-makers.
The "Kimberley to Cape Initiative" in Northern Australia is working across one quarter of a billion hectares of arguably the largest ecologically intact areas of tropical savannas, rivers and shallow seas in the world. It offers a globally significant opportunity in tropical conservation connectivity. The project aims to support development and conservation that enhances natural and cultural values and strengthens communities. Its key strategy is to establish an interconnected network of land of diverse tenures. It includes and links landscapes of particularly high conservation value, e.g.
Recently, a lengthy process of negotiation between timber and conservation interests led to a significant change in a decades long conflict over the use of public forests in Tasmania. An agreement was reached to protect significant additional areas of forest through industry consolidation, with support from all parties. After years of costly and divisive conflict through social, political and market lobbying and campaigning, an alternative approach of direct negotiation between the main stakeholders was undertaken.