International scientists, leading protected area experts and NGO representatives underlined the urgent need for transboundary cooperation to support decision makers to conserve unique northern nature in the Barents Region according to the United Nations biodiversity targets. Decision makers need updated knowledge on the state of transboundary protected area network to be taken into consideration in national and regional nature conservation planning.
Barents Region belongs to one of the largest intact natural areas on Earth, but threats such as climate change and unsustainable use of natural resources, are constantly increasing. Habitat loss and fragmentation are threatening survival of species and maintenance of ecosystem functions causing major loss of regional biodiversity.
The growing role of connectivity between protected areas
Experts of the conference discussed methods to develop the protected area network in the Barents Region and needs for future co-operation to meet the international nature conservation targets according to the preliminary results of the BPAN project. Bengt-Gunnar Jonsson, Professor of plant ecology in the Mid Sweden University and leading chair of the conference, highlighted the important role of connectivity between protected areas, and conservation of areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services. “More unified information on these themes is needed to develop the functional network of protected areas”, Jonsson pointed out.
The Barents Region has several remaining ecological corridors, green belts, with intact forests and mires. These are crucial for species’ survival, especially in the light of ongoing climate change. One of the most significant ecological corridor is the Green Belt of Fennoscandia, stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Barents Sea, and continuing along the Scandinavian Mountains to Sweden.
Unified nature conservation data to support decision making processes
Unified and analyzed cross-border information must be available for utilization in national and regional nature conservation planning. Nature has no borders – therefore protected areas of the neighboring countries and regions should be taken into account in the planning process.
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity Target 11, “by 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape”.
This is a challenging target to all the committed countries. However, biodiversity values of the Barents Region have a chance to be secured only by fulfilling the target. International cooperation between countries and regions is the key to safeguard vulnerable northern nature for future generations.
Conference materials (pdf)
BPAN project activities
Experts’ views on protected area networks
National protected area networks
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