At a press conference this Thursday organised to mark European Natura 2000 Day, Natagora denounced the end of the Walloon Region scheme which co-financed 50% of approved nature reserves (approved=managed, and often purchased, by local groups, unlike federal nature reserves which are managed by the DNF (Forestry Commission). To date, the scheme has been providing between 200,000 and 400,000 euros per year, and as such, the decision will dramatically restrict the association’s activities. “We believe our work serves the general public and that recent reports on biodiversity only highlight the urgency for such work. They show that not enough is being done even now, yet the plug is going to be pulled on our financing,” points out Joëlle Huysecom, director of conservation.
With regard to the government’s designation on Thursday of 400 hectares of new nature reserves, managed by the DNF, on Wednesday Natagora sent a report to Renée Collin, Walloon Minister of Agriculture, Nature, Rural Affairs, Tourism and Sports Infrastructure. The report laid out the 40-or-so projects for approved nature reserves the association submitted to current and past ministers, and which have still not been either approved or rejected. The oldest of the projects date back to2006.
During its AGM on May 11th, Natagora called on the Walloon region to reinstate the process by which nature reserves are created. It highlights that “The co-financing initiative, which provided funding for local group projects was launched in 1986, but is now being completely scrapped. The impact this will have on Natagora’s financial situation will be huge; previous decisions had never been rolled out to NPOs.”
Lars Andersen (Source: Belga)