The Natura 2000 network is the centrepiece of EU biodiversity policy. However, given the scale, scope and ambition of the Natura 2000 network, conflicts are to be expected in its establishment and management at regional, national and EU level. The implementation in Estonia of Natura 2000 and EU environmental legislation, such as the Birds and Habitats Directives, is no exception. Conflicts have mostly occurred in the area of forest management, semi-natural habitats management and the protection and handling of large carnivores. To address biodiversity loss in these areas, it is therefore necessary to raise awareness and change peoples behaviour. It is moreover necessary to address the misperception that Natura 2000 management prevents any human activity in protected sites.
The overall objective of the NaturallyEst-LIFE project is to enhance communication between local communities, landowners and nature conservation stakeholders.
The specific objectives of the project are to: Help solve Natura 2000 network related conflicts between local communities and conservation administrators; Use solved cases as a way of communicating that the Natura 2000 network is a flexible and efficient tool for nature conservation; Improve the overall image of Natura 2000 network in Estonia to promote the implementation of the Habitat and Birds Directives; and Share lessons in the Eastern European region.
Expected results: Decrease in the number of conflicts and thus illegal activities in Natura 2000 sites; 30 conflict cases solved around Natura 2000 rules between local communities and officials; 2 000 people taking part in the open-air events, study tours and volunteer camps; 5 000 people engaged in citizen science campaign online; 30 nature spokespersons acquire practical skills to work in public communication through courses organised during the project (they will be able to cover 70% of events in Estonia that need nature spokespersons); and At least 250 media stories published during the project about Natura 2000 cases, detailing solved conflict cases.