Natura 2000 is an opportunity for hunters, hunting is an opportunity for Natura 2000 by Joseph van der Stegen

This conference was given during the 7th Global Youth for Sustainable Use organised in Belgium in October 2011.

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Joseph van der STEGEN, from the European Commission, is working at DG Environment and is responsible for NATURA2000 in Belgium and France.

Joseph did confront Natura2000 and Hunting, demonstrating challenges and opportunities. He reminded everyone about Natura2000 in Europe and went into useful details, such nature & hunting legislation, showed concrete actions, and practical information with the question of « balance ».

Natura 2000 = an opportunity for hunters:

  • Protection and restoration of diversified habitats = ideal environment for game species (e.g. hamster friendly measures, restoration of bogs in forests, restoration of rabbit populations for raptors...)
  • Good tool for hunters to communicate and cooperate at local, regional, national and EU level
  • Science-based approach – helps to solve emotional conflicts
  • Opportunities to enhance public support for hunting

Hunting = an opportunity for Natura 2000

  • Large group of people interested in maintaining/managing diversified habitats (wetlands, hedges, field margins...)
  • Group keen to invest in nature and manage often remote areas
  • Group able to contribute to environment monitoring
  • Development of nature tourism
  • Control of some species
Following the interesting European speech and debate on hunting and Natura 2000, Francesco Kinsky, from the European Landowners Organisation (ELO), summarised the importance of dealing with the EU Commission and EU Parliament to defend the interest of landownership and all traditional activities directly related to it (e.g. agriculture, forestry, hunting, fishing, etc.).

He mentioned various models and initiatives, such as the "Wildlife Estates" (WE), promoting the message that European Landowners, Land managers and hunters are making great efforts to preserve nature. The society needs to recognise the value of Hunters, having both the knowledge and the experience to bring solutions to existing environmental problems.

"Conservation through wise use" is the common denominator of the CIC and the ELO, which recently started collaboration in the "Wildlife Estates" project promoting the synergies between responsible land management and sustainable wildlife use. Its main objective is to facilitate a label recognising good and exemplary wildlife territories in Europe.
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