EU Habitat Action Plans: Targeting restoration of key habitats and species

IEEP has co-authored the first EU Habitat Action Plan – for dry calcareous grasslands. The Habitat Action Plans aim to help drive forward the restoration of key habitats and species across the EU.

The European Commission has just published an EU Habitat Action Plan for the habitat type 6210 Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (including priority important orchid sites). A second EU Habitat Action Plan for the habitat type 4030 European dry heaths will be published soon. 

Both of these habitat types are protected in Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive, The Habitats Directive aims to maintain and restore all priority habitat types to favourable conservation status across the EU. Habitat action plans are a key commitment under the EU Action Plan for People, Nature and the Economy, published after the fitness check of the EU Nature Directives showed that more action is needed to speed up implementation of the nature directives. Both plans are the result of two years of extensive consultations with leading scientific experts, stakeholders, and competent Member States’ authorities.

Both of these habitat types are present in many Member States and have an unfavourable conservation status across much of their range. Both require extensive management through grazing or mowing. They are important refuges for many protected species.

Calcareous grasslands, for example, host an extraordinarily rich plant and insect diversity including pollinators, as well as reptiles, birds, fungi, and much more.

The action plans describe the conservation status, ecological requirements, and major threats to the habitats, bringing this information together across the EU for the first time, revealing commonalities and inconsistencies in interpretations.

A key feature of both plans is the Framework for Action – which identifies the key actions and measures that are required to improve their conservation within the EU in the short and medium terms, and who is responsible for each. They are addressed to all those interested and involved in the conservation and management of the habitat type, including governmental and non-governmental organisations, local communities, landowners and users and other stakeholders, and habitat specialists.

The LIFE Preparatory Projects call announced at the end of May includes targeted funding for putting the key actions of the new EU Habitat Action Plan for dry calcareous grasslands into practice, and interested groups are currently looking for partners to bid for this funding.

See also the IEEP study on drivers of success in EU nature conservation featuring the case of calcareous grassland restoration in Poland – highlighting the success factors and enabling actions.

IEEP helped to compile these action plans under a support contract funded by the European Commission.