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      The terms “project” and “plan” in the Natura 2000 appropriate assessment

      Nature Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          The Natura 2000 appropriate assessment for impacting projects or plans under Article 6(3) HD is the central statutory instrument for the protection of Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and the Special Protection Areas (SPA). The decisive factor in whether or not an appropriate assessment is required depends on the question of whether a project or plan is present within the meaning of Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC1 (HD). The Habitats Directive does not define these terms in any more detail, which is why they must be specified more closely through interpretation. This paper will present the definitions given by the European Court of Justice (ECJ)2 case law and national courts like the German Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG)3 and discuss the consequences and practical scope of the terms. The focus of the following investigation will be on the term “project”. This is because for “plans”, the envisaged projects are essentially also decisive, given that only these can have significant adverse effects on the conservation objectives. There are a variety of questions regarding when a human activity constitutes a project and under which conditions Member States could exempt activities from the requirement for an assessment. This article will start with an outline of the temporal scope of the appropriate assessment and, following this, briefly explore the scope of plans or projects directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site, as they are not the subject of an assessment.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Fifty years of change in Central European grassland vegetation: Large losses in species richness and animal-pollinated plants

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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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              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
                : 31-56
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.23.13601
                © 2017

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