7th International Contact Forum on Habitat Conservation in the Barents Region brought together 50 nature conservation experts to discuss challenges and co-operation needs of habitat conservation and protected areas on 11-13 June, in Bodø, Nordland County, Norway. The forum provides a valuable platform to exchange experiences and current knowledge between NGOs, scientific institutes as well as regional and national authorities of the neighboring countries.
The main topics of the forum were:
- status and trends of habitat conservation
- wetlands and coastal areas
- protection of the last remaining intact boreal forests
- implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- Barents Protected Area Network, BPAN project
Mutual tasks to develop protected areas
Subjects of the forum were closely connected to the work of the BPAN project. Urgent need to protect intact boreal forest landscapes considering the climate change and exploitation of natural resources formed the large framework for the discussions. Implementation of CBD and development of transboundary wetlands protected by the Ramsar Convention are common tasks for the countries of the Barents Region. Fennoscandian Green Belt and the initiative to expand the concept to the Fennoscandian Horseshoe through the Scandinavian Mountains to Sweden raised crucial questions of connectivity.
Aside the forum, the BPAN expert working groups and the Steering Committee had their meetings to prepare final results of the project for the Barents Region Environment Ministers’ meeting and to plan future work after 2013.
Habitat Contact Forum keeps the connection between neighboring countries
International Contact Forum on Habitat Conservation in the Barents Region, also known as the Habitat Contact Forum, HCF, was established in 1999 to coordinate nature conservation co-operation. With meetings every second year, HCF is one of the key nature conservation activities of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council’s Working Group on Environment and its subgroup on nature protection.