Developing the Green Belt Initiative

Fresh momentum for the European Green Belt

© Zarko Brajanoski/MES
Working together for the European Green Belt. The initiative has picked up a fresh impetus for action from the conference in the Mavrovo National Park in July 2012. © Zarko Brajanoski/MES

The European Green Belt contributes crucially to the preservation of biodiversity in Europe. Several thousand nature conservation areas have been established along the one-time Iron Curtain. The initiative has set itself the goal of maintaining and developing the existing conservation areas and near-natural landscapes as core regions of a single ecological network. The same applies to the neighbouring areas. They are to act as stepping stones for animal and plant species so that the Green Belt can make an essential contribution to establishing a green infrastructure through Europe.

Nature conservation fosters reconciliation

Alongside its ecological significance the European Green Belt represents a unique landscape of remembrance and a living monument to how the Cold War was finally overcome. It helps Europeans to recognise what they have in common across cultures and separate countries and its existence helps us to form and further extend a network of nature conservation across borders. In doing this the European Green Belt contributes crucially to the development of civilian society in Europe.

Diversity in abundance under one banner

The European Green Belt extends across many countries in Europe and there are many, many groups active in it for the protection of biotopes.  At present it is divided into four sections:

  • Fennoskandinavian Green Belt (the northern part of Norway, Finland and Russia)
  • Baltic Green Belt (the area along the Baltic Sea)
  • Central European Green Belt (from the Baltic Sea coast to the River Drava )
  • Balkan Green Belt (from the River Drava to the Aegean and the Black Sea)

 Good coordination is much needed

Participants are EU member states, acceding, candidate and potential candidate countries as also non-EU states. Therefore the coordination of the initiative represents a formidable challenge, in particular because of the steadily increasing number of state and non-state actors and fields of action.
Following the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) resignation from the European coordination post in 2010, EuroNatur, already the regional coordinator for the Balkan Green Belt, has now taken over the responsibility for the further development of the initiative jointly with Green Belt Project Bureau of BUND (regional coordinator for the Central European Green Belt).

How are we to give fresh impetus to the work of the European Green Belt?

  • Pooling our efforts and energies: We are working on finding ways to coordinate the increasing number of stakeholders in the European Green Belt initiative, bringing them together across national borders and taking care of long-term financing of the initiative.
  • Attracting public attention: We create the conditions enabling us to raise public awareness of the European Green Belt effectively and to highlight the exceptional natural value of this unique wildlife corridor
  • Strengthening political support: We are pressing to get the countries along the European Green Belt to commit themselves to making the protection of the European Green Belt a genuine joint effort. In the northernmost section of the European Green Belt the governments of Finland, Russia and Norway have already signed a corresponding agreement. This is to be the model for the other sections of the European Green Belt.

What we have so far been able to achieve – a selection of important successes 

  • Clear allocation of responsibilities, creation of binding agreements: the 6th Pan-European Conference on the European Green Belt in the Mavrovo National Park in Macedonia was a milestone on our path. The goal of achieving an effective movement for the protection of the Green Belt is getting closer. Read more here...

Partners: BUND Green Belt Project Bureau (BUND - Friends of the Earth Germany)

Sponsoring: Federal Agency for Nature Conservation with financing from German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety

Press release 6. July 2012 "Impetus for the European Green Belt initiative"

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