Private land conservation, Natura 2000 and adaptive management plans, wetlands and climate change, the value of ecosystem services, nature-based solutions, crop wild relatives – all these topics were passed under review during last week’s ‘Europe’s biodiversity beyond 2020 – Tackling the challenges to achieve targets’ event. From 25-27 September, Eurosite held its Annual Meeting together with CEEweb for Biodiversity, in Budapest, Hungary. The event was supported by EKLIPSE.

Approximately 60 participants from all over Europe joined forces for Europe’s nature – learning from each other through various presentations, interactive sessions, and a live meeting of the Wetlands and Climate Change Working Group. Presentations were uploaded to our dedicated event page. On the first day, all participants had the opportunity to take part in two interactive sessions each, which focused on:

  • Different global and EU policies and directives supporting wetlands restoration and conservation – how are they translated to national and regional level?
  • Practices of implementation of Natural Water Retention Measures and Nature-Based Solutions in Natura 2000 and water management on national and regional level
  • The key items for management planning guidance – feedback to the Eurosite Management Planning Expert Group
  • The use of scientific modelling in management plans & management in relation to changes in ecosystem services
  • Fostering private land conservation in Europe
  • Risk-based decision making: a crash course

We were delighted to have Ms. Laura Palomo – Rios from the Executive Agency for SMEs and Mr. Frank Vassen of the European Commission among our speakers. Ms. Palomo – Rios explained how the EU supports nature-based solutions projects, and Mr. Vassen spoke on adaptive approaches to Natura 2000 management and the roles of expert and NGO networks in the exchange of good practices. He emphasised that to achieve desired results and outcomes, practitioners need sufficient investments. The day was closed with the traditional EuroCocktail, where everyone brought some local produce from his/her region to share with other participants. During the EuroCocktail, special attention was paid to the farewell of Eurosite Board Members David Parker (UK) and Artemis Yiordamli (CY).

Day 2 comprised the field trip to the Kiskunság National Park that was kicked off with a presentation of Ms. Evelyn Underwood of IEEP on the financing of Nature-Based Solutions for long-term water management in the House of Nature, the Headquarters of the national park, located in the town of Kecskemét. Additionally, participants were given the opportunity to present case studies on how they successfully secured funding for their wetland conservation and restoration. During the field trip participants were shown around two dried up natron lakes. At one of the sites, the dried up Kondor lake was divided by what used to be a dam. At this spot we took a group picture with all participants. In the evening, participants had the opportunity to network.

On the final day we held the Eurosite Annual General Meeting, in which members officially approved the 2017 Annual Report and the preliminary budget for 2019. Subsequently, Ms. Tuula Kurikka from Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland was appointed as the newest Eurosite Council Member. She succeeded Jussi Päivinen (Finland), who together with Marina Škunca (Croatia) and Naïk Faucon (France) are the newest members of the Eurosite Board.

We would like to thank all speakers, participants and others who contributed to our Annual Meeting in any way. Additionally we would like to express our gratitude to our friends of CEEweb for Biodiversity.