09.01.2013 / Project - News

"Guidance on Assessing Socio-Economic Benefits for better access to Structural Funds for Biodiversity" has been published

European Funds provide different opportunities to complement the financing of national, regional and local nature conservation measures in the member states
 to preserve the precious natural assets and cultural landscapes.

The European approach for financing of NATURA 2000 suggests that all nature conservation measures must be integrated into all EU Funds. The current funding period 2007-2013 has shown great potential for financing the promotion of biodiversity and nature within the Operational Programmes of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Indeed, 3.8 billion € have been in principle allocated for nature investments across all ERDF Operational Programmes.
But the experience gained throughout the SURF-Nature project shows that the opportunities offered by the European Regional Development Fund for nature conservation
and restoration initiatives are not fully exploited. The funds are not easily accessible since, for instance, projects often are not able to duly demonstrate that investing in biodiversity and nature conservation leads to socio-economic benefits in regions. Biodiversity conservation as a whole is still often perceived as mainly imposing costs or restrictions on communities and economies. Due to the lack of economic visibility, the benefits coming from nature are scarcely taken into account both in project development and evaluation for EU Funds allocation.
Acknowledging the importance of biodiversity inside
 and outside of protected areas, the European Union has developed a comprehensive biodiversity related policy 
and legal framework that all EU Member States have 
to comply with. In addition, each Member State has its own biodiversity objectives. EU Funds can deliver an important contribution to fulfilling these obligations by providing a considerable proportion of the necessary funds.

The objective of the Guidance is
a) to provide Managing Authorities with practical instruments for understanding and estimating the socio-economic values of biodiversity and nature conservation projects in order to better guide investment decisions and
b) to help applicants in the field of biodiversity conservation and management to access ERDF Funds for their purposes.

Thus, it is expected that Managing Authorities and potential applicants for funds gain an increased capacity with respect to assessing and communicating the added value of nature conservation projects in terms of socio-economic values. Also, a standard approach for costs-benefits evaluation will be promoted, including the capacity for comparing nature conservation benefits with benefits arising from other types of land use. Last but not least, institutions working in the field of biodiversity conservation and management will increase their understanding of how they can make use of ERDF Funds for their purposes.

Raluca Dan, WWF Romania

You can download the publication here: