The European conference Natura 2000 in action!, bringing together over 100 participants from regions and key stakeholders from all over Europe, concluded that is vital to keep the EU Natura 2000 ecological network protected areas alive and to further expand it. The Natura 2000 network is the true backbone of Europe’s natural heritage and vital for Europe’s economy, employment and regional identity. This was illustrated by many successful local and regional Natura 2000 cases. The conference felt that all relevant local stakeholders, such as site managers, land users and local politicians, should have an increased involvement in the functioning of the Natura 2000 network. As regards to Natura 2000, challenges include increasing the funding level for conservation and management efforts, mobilizing its potentials for green economic growth of municipalities and regions, enhancing their role for health and well-being, increasing communication towards people and key stakeholders, while decreasing bureaucracy and conflicts.
The conference was held on Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th of December 2014 at the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site in Barcelona, Spain. It was organised by ECNC together with the EU Committee of the Regions, Eurosite and the United Nations Environmental Programme, in cooperation with the Government of Catalunya and the Barcelona Provincial Council. The conference was organized in cooperation with and with financial support from the European Commission.