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      The assessment of significant effects on the integrity of “Natura 2000” sites under Article 6(2) and 6(3) of the Habitats Directive

      Nature Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          This article investigates the question of how the significance of potential adverse effects on Natura 2000 sites – comprising sites of Community importance (SCI) and special protection areas (SPA) – can be determined legally and methodologically within the scope of appropriate assessments for projects and plans in accordance with Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC1 (HD) and whether the results can be transferred to the prohibition of disturbance and deterioration stipulated in Article 6(2) HD. The assessment of significance is important as, according to the European Court of Justice (ECJ)2 and the German Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG)3, a project or plan is only permissible if, in the light of the best scientific knowledge in the field and without reasonable scientific doubt, the plan or project will not have lasting significant adverse effects on the integrity of that site. In this process, all aspects of the plan or project have to be identified which may, either independently or in combination with other plans or projects, affect the conservation objectives of the site concerned. This also includes a specialist forecast. Furthermore, closer specification is required of the threshold above which a non-significant adverse effect turns into a significant adverse effect and whether thresholds for bagatelles can be attributed to the proposed development.

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          Most cited references 23

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          The challenge of implementing the European network of protected areas Natura 2000.

          Established under the European Union (EU) Birds and Habitats Directives, Natura 2000 is one of the largest international networks of protected areas. With the spatial designation of sites by the EU member states almost finalized, the biggest challenge still lying ahead is the appropriate management of the sites. To evaluate the cross-scale functioning of Natura 2000 implementation, we analyzed 242 questionnaires completed by conservation scientists involved in the implementation of Natura 2000 in 24 EU member states. Respondents identified 7 key drivers of the quality of Natura 2000 implementation. Ordered in decreasing evaluation score, these drivers included: network design, use of external resources, legal frame, scientific input, procedural frame, social input, and national or local policy. Overall, conservation scientists were moderately satisfied with the implementation of Natura 2000. Tree modeling revealed that poor application of results of environmental impact assessments (EIA) was considered a major constraint. The main strengths of the network included the substantial increase of scientific knowledge of the sites, the contribution of nongovernmental organizations, the adequate network design in terms of area and representativeness, and the adequacy of the EU legal frame. The main weaknesses of Natura 2000 were the lack of political will from local and national governments toward effective implementation; the negative attitude of local stakeholders; the lack of background knowledge of local stakeholders, which prevented well-informed policy decisions; and the understaffing of Natura 2000 management authorities. Top suggestions to improve Natura 2000 implementation were increase public awareness, provide environmental education to local communities, involve high-quality conservation experts, strengthen quality control of EIA studies, and establish a specific Natura 2000 fund.
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            Cumulative effects assessment: Does scale matter?

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              Identifying uncertainties in judging the significance of human impacts on Natura 2000 sites

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Conservation
                NC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-3301
                1314-6947
                December 14 2017
                December 14 2017
                : 23
                : 57-85
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.23.13602
                © 2017

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