Nestor Fernandez, Louise O’Connor, and Jutta Beher attended a three-day event in Hannover, Germany, during which the European Member States with land in the Atlantic biogeographical region met to discuss and exchange ongoing progress, challenges and future plans for developing national pledges for expanding protected areas and improving conservation status in the context of the Biodiversity Strategy 2030. The meeting was the first of a series of Biogeographical seminars during the coming months set up to facilitate collaboration and discussion during the time in which Member States work on their national pledges to reach the 30 by 30 target, aiming to expand the current network of protected areas in Europe to 30% of all land in the EU by 2030.
The NaturaConnect team delivered a presentation showcasing the objectives, preliminary results, and inviting delegates to liaise with the project via different avenues depending on their level of interest. During the three days, an overview of NaturaConnect and contact options was also presented at a market stall.
The presentation was met with great interest, and multiple conversations during the following days emerged to discuss details of the analysis and possible follow-up options.
At the same time, the NaturaConnect team was able to hear first-hand from many Member State representatives on their work on the ground as well as the main challenges and enablers of designating and managing conservation areas in their national contexts. We hope that the attendance at the Biogeographical Seminars in 2023 and early 2024 will facilitate a wider recognition, interest and potential uptake of communication with different Member States across the European Union, with the aim to re-engage during multiple points in time over the lifetime of the project. Iterative engagement with key high-level stakeholders to create a co-design process over the lifetime of NaturaConnect lies at the core of the project aims to ensure the relevance of analysis and results. The Hannover event was the first check-in of this envisioned process, helping to develop relevant analysis pathways and results that are fit to inform policy decisions. We hope that by the end of the series of Biogeographical seminars, Member States will have a better understanding of what NaturaConnect tries to do and why it is relevant to their own work, while NaturaConnect will understand better which aspects of the analysis are most relevant to different states, and in which ways we can be most helpful in the process to improve conservation planning in the European Union.