No fewer than 80 project coordinators and experts from European nature projects signed up for a three-day meeting in the spirit of knowledge exchange. All these nature projects have one common denominator: Integrated Projects from the European LIFE programme. The aim of this programme is to support the realisation of Natura 2000. This is the first time that all 15 current integrated projects, from the same number of member states, have been represented: a unique moment and also the perfect opportunity to share knowledge and good practices, but also difficulties. The meeting was hosted by the LIFE Belgian Nature Integrated Project (LIFE BNIP).
During the meeting, experiences in areas such as project management, communication, dealing with stakeholders and fundraising were shared through keynotes and interactive workshops. In addition to the exchange, there was also a focus on the start-up of, among other things, the new LIFE programme 2021-2027.
The participants also went on a full-day field visit. In Outgaarden near Hoegaarden, for example, a concrete example was shown of cooperation with the agricultural sector via the Flemish Land Agency (VLM). By means of targeted interventions in the field, such as the alternating use of crops, better living environments are created for the Montagu’s harrier, a species that falls under a species protection programme. This means that the species is extra vulnerable and specific actions must be taken to ensure their survival. Natagriwal, a Walloon partner in the project, demonstrated how they help to organise the management agreements. There was also a visit to the Demerbroeken region in Scherpenheuvel-Zichem, where colleagues from Natuur en Bos, the Flemish Waterway and Natuurpunt could show an example of how nature and water policy were tackled together.
Tom Andries, coordinator of BNIP, is more than satisfied: “This three-day event was extremely interesting. It really gives a boost to see how much energy is being put into these projects at the European level. It is also striking that we often face the same difficulties. It is therefore relevant to look for possible solutions together and to learn from each other.”
It is clear that cooperation between different projects is useful and necessary. A broader exchange platform will be launched in order to be able to respond even more quickly and to learn from each other more quickly.
Watch our video report
Interviews by the European Commission
Els Martens – Agentschap voor Natuur en Bos
Tomy Tchatchou – Service Public de Wallonie
Bart Van der Aa – Agentschap voor Natuur en Bos
Melina Kyametis – Natuurpunt
Elisabet Andersson – Grip on LIFE