„A shared life experience of nature“ is the title of the manual we recently published. It presents integration projects initiated by the Naturefriends movement and other associations and aims to encourage civil-society organisations to increasingly involve people from migrant backgrounds. „A shared life experience of nature“ is also the general heading of our activities in the field of biodiversity.
Everyone – regardless of age, income, origins or education – is welcome to join in. The multimedia editions, which have already been created for selected Natura Trails, even enable a „virtual life experience of nature“ without having to leave one‘s desk. Needless to say that this is no fully-fledged alternative to actually being in the outdoors, but it is a great opportunity to get informed before a trip and an exciting tool to give children and adolescents an understanding of our protected areas.
Besides the Natura Trails, recent NFI activities focussed on the start of our Water:Ways campaign. In the first project year, mountain habitats especially characterised by water: „glaciers, karst and mountain forests“ were in the centre of attention. These habitats have been the destination of several guided hiking tours and are the subject of a habitat brochure. Next year‘s topic will be „streams, rivers and alluvial forests“ and we already planned several activities on this topic. However, new ideas are very welcome and we invite interested local groups to join in.
As we had to admit in 2010 – the International Year of Biodiversity – that we are far from halting or even reducing biodiversity loss, the EU adopted a new biodiversity strategy to stop biodiversity loss by 2020. At the same time, the European Commission acknowledged that species loss is a tremendous problem for the European Union – by now, one fourth of all species are threatened with extinction. However, positive news concerning Natura 2000 give reason to hope: the network of protected areas has been extended by 18.000 km2, about 17.000 km2 of which are sea areas, providing refuge to many of the rarest and most threatened species in Europe. Nevertheless, it is only possible to effectively protect Natura 2000 areas – and thereby preserve the plant and animal species living there – if the next EU Budget provides sufficient financial means for nature protection measures. The course for this will be set over the next few months and we will also campaign for a green EU Budget. Additionally, our activities will raise awareness amongst people to treat nature with respect.