LIFE improves Natura knowhow for managing marine ecosystems

Source: DG Environment, EC

Europe’s marine environment is full of life and the subsea world provides us with many important ecosystem services. Nature protection measures covering this key natural resource remain somewhat in their infancy, but LIFE is involved in charting a course to help Member States put in place management actions for conserving our marine species.

Natura 2000 is now well established as a core component of EU nature conservation policy and LIFE has successfully helped to nurture the Natura network’s development over the last two decades. Consequently, an increasing array of the European biodiversity which relies on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems in Natura areas now enjoy generally more positive prospects. This can often be attributed to the improved knowhow that has been built up about these land, lake and river habitats, as well as their species and associated conservation requirements.

Less however is still known about Europe’s marine ecosystems, and Natura’s reach out into our seas has to date not been as conclusive as it has been onshore. LIFE is involved in developing techniques to address this conservation challenge and excellent results in Natura’s marine domain are being achieved by Spain’s INDEMARES project (LIFE07 NAT/E/000732).

Ignacio Torres is the INDEMARES project manager and he describes why such marine LIFE activity is valuable. “In spite of this being the 21st Century, our marine ecosystems remain largely unknown. Only around one percent of the oceans and seas have been properly investigated so we do not know enough about how they function. Nevertheless, due to the way that these natural resources are used, it is important to better understand our marine ecosystems so that we can safeguard them and the ecosystem services that they provide for us.”

“This is why we set up the INDEMARES project here in Spain because our country has a very long coastline and we are one of the richest European nations in terms of marine biodiversity. In addition, a high percentage of the Spanish economy is dependent on our coasts so this is another reason why it is vital that we find ways to look after our marine environment in an informed way.”

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