The Project

In Europe, especially in the densely populated cultural landscapes of West and Central Europe, appropriate habitats for rare wildlife species are exceptional. At the same time areas suitable for tourism, outdoor sports and recreation are only available to a limited extent. Often these areas overlap with the refuge areas of rare species.

With Natura 2000, which includes areas protected under the Habitats Directive (directive: 92/43/EEC), as well as the Wild Birds Directive (directive 79/409/EEC) an extensive legal instrument has been introduced on a European wide scale. The aim of Natura 2000 is to protect the species and habitat types, listed in the directive’s annex, and to define standardised criteria for preserving biological diversity in the European Union on the basis of unitary criteria. This does not necessarily exclude human use in Natura 2000 areas, as long as such use does not threaten the sites’ conservation aims by having a negative impact on the favourable conservation status of the species or habitat type for which the area has been designated.
In Natura 2000 areas the regulation of utilisation is not subject to uniform rules, as in the case of some other types of protected areas but the directives must be adapted to the specific needs of the protected species or habitats. In addition, to regulate activities that endanger the conservation status, directives can also apply to areas outside the Natura-site.

For recreation, tourism and outdoor sports in Natura 2000 areas the following aspects must be taken into consideration:
  • The impact of different kinds of leisure activities depends greatly on the type and intensity of the activity, as well as the specific demands of the protected species and habitats.
  • Recreation and nature protection interact with other types of human activity (e.g. agriculture and forestry). This must also be taken into account when developing regulations for sustainable use.
  • Within Europe the conditions vary from region to region, even if the tourist activities and the conservation aims in specific Natura 2000 sites happen to be the same.

Based on the aforementioned aspects, the EU-LIFE Cooperation Project ‘Grouse and Tourism in Natura 2000 Areas’ was launched in September 2002 by the State Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg, in cooperation with LIFE Project partners from Finland, Scotland and Germany. EU-LIFE Cooperation projects have been introduced by the European commission in 2002 with the object of sharing experience between LIFE-Projects and give them the opportunity to develop joint implementation-concepts.

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