Slovenia is among the EU countries with the highest biodiversity. Around 38 % of the territory is included in the Natura 2000 network, targeting the conservation of 60 habitat types and 236 species. Managing this large area represents a big challenge. Despite considerable improvements in the conservation status of many habitats and species, other habitats are still deteriorating due to the intensification of agriculture in lowland areas, the abandonment of agricultural land use in high or remote areas, urbanisation and other factors. As a result of the LIFE project SI Natura2000 Management Slovenia, the Natura 2000 Management Programme for Slovenia (2014-2020) adopted key objectives and measures for Natura 2000 sites to implement the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive. The main stakeholders strive to meet these common objectives, but are not united in support of the approaches and means leading to their achievement. To overcome these barriers, and to fund the best possible approaches, a strong inclusive approach is needed.
The main objective of the LIFE IP NATURA.SI project is to enhance the implementation of the Natura 2000 Management Programme for Slovenia (2014-2020). It aims to improve the conservation status of targeted habitat types and species by establishing a long-term and inclusive management approach. This will enhance cooperation and communication between policymakers, landowners, research institutions and NGOs, thus turning stakeholders into more effective partners. Specific project objectives are to: improve conservation status of selected habitats and species by implementing measures listed in the Natura 2000 Management Programme for Slovenia; enhance management of Natura 2000 sites by increasing the capacity of key nature conservation organisations in Slovenia; improve knowledge on habitat types and species in Natura 2000 sites, for example, by establishing a long-term and sustainable national monitoring scheme; raise awareness and knowledge of Natura 2000 sites, and their habitat types and species.
Expected results: implementation of at least five priority projects listed in the Natura 2000 Management Programme for Slovenia (2014-2020), with concrete conservation actions taken to improve conservation status and reverse downward trends for habitat types andspecies in grassland, forest and wetland ecosystems; significantly raised capacity and management skills of key nature conservation actors in Slovenia, including the training of at least 300 employees of project partners, 300 public servants (e.g. agriculture, forestry), and 200 members of Slovenian NGOs; establishment of a Warden Service covering at least half of Slovenias territory, and the establishment of an inter-sectoral cooperation network with working groups to advise at least 600 landowners, farmers and foresters; improved knowledge on habitat types and species (distribution, conservation status and threats) through the development of better monitoring protocols; improved communication skills and raised awareness, with at least 100 000 people (including 25 % of inhabitants in Natura 2000 sites) reached through communication activities; as a result of the IP project, 15 projects listed in the Natura 2000 Management Programme for Slovenia (2014-2020) co-financed from ERDF, and conservation status of targeted habitat types and species improved due to these projects.
In addition to the IP budget itself, the project will facilitate the coordinated use of approx. 58 million of complementary funding from ERDF, EARDF and the National Forest Fund.