EU's Conservation Efforts Need More Strategic Investment to Meet Continental Commitments
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The European Union (EU) has made significant conservation efforts in the last two decades, guided by the Birds and Habitats Directives, currently under evaluation. Despite these efforts a large proportion of priority species are still in unfavorable condition and continue declining. For this reason, a thoughtful review of the implementation of conservation efforts in Europe is needed to identify potential causes behind this poor effectiveness. We compiled information on the distribution of all conservation funds under the LIFE-Nature, the main financial tool for conservation in Europe. We found that LIFE-Nature has not adequately covered continental conservation needs. The majority of funds have been directed toward nonthreatened species or regions of low conservation priority. Given the limited resources available, two key aspects are in urgent need for revision and improvement. First, the distribution of funds should be guided by continental and global conservation needs and planned at the EU scale. Second, new mechanisms are required to set conservation priorities in a dynamic fashion, rather than relying on fixed lists (i.e., the Directives’ Annexes) that may rapidly become outdated. These improvements would require new mechanisms to set priorities and redistribution of conservation efforts, supported by adequate policy and a more effective top-down control on investment.
© 2016 The Authors. Conservation Letters published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.