A unique environmental protection project in the Baltics is implemented in Lithuania2018-01-25
The LIFE integrated project has been launched in Lithuania for the first time; it is aimed at curbing the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services and restoring them to the maximum extent possible. The project of such great importance and scope is the first in the Baltic countries.
“Biological diversity is the basis of public health and wealth: clean air, pure water, foodstuffs, building materials, regulation of floods, pests and climate, crop pollination – all this and even more are the benefits we receive from nature without which we would not be able to survive”, emphasises Vice-Minister of Environment Martynas Norbutas.
This integrated project will provide the possibility of fulfilling Lithuania’s commitments in the field of environmental protection and implementing the national strategic document Natura 2000 for areas, namely, the Priority Action Programme. During the project, a more favourable protection status will be ensured for important habitats and species and a synergy between the goals of biodiversity protection and the goals of other political directions, particularly, agriculture, forestry and tourism, will be sought.
In compliance with the EU Bird and Habitat Directives, the Natura 2000 areas must be properly cleaned and protected. In Lithuania, the network comprises a major share of protected areas, for instance, natural reserves, state parks, reservations, buffer zones of bodies of water, etc.
“Natura 2000 is not just a network of protected natural reserves. It recognises that it is best for the people and nature to act in common and it is sought not to abandon economic activities but ensure that it would not interfere with the protection of valuable species and habitats. The network has a great economic impact”, says Vice-Minister of Environment.
It has been calculated that the maintenance of the network costs around EUR 6million for the EU on a yearly basis; however, the ecosystem services (e.g., CO2 absorption, protection against floods and other natural disasters, water treatment, various cultural services) created in these protected areas per annum total approx. EUR 200–300 billion per year, or account for 2–3% of the EU GDP.
Due to the direct and indirect damage caused by human activity on the ecosystems, their condition is deteriorating, and this impairs the quality of the services provided as well. For example, in 2000–2010, as a result of declining meadow areas (beside other reasons), the potential of plant pollination carried out by insects decreased by 5 per cent in the entire EU.; and it has been also calculated that the loss of ecosystems will cost for the world’s economy around EUR 14 trillion, or around 7 % of the global GDP in 2050.
The total value of the integrated projects amounts to EUR 17.2 million, the major share of which will consist of the LIFE assistance under the EU Programme (EUR 10.3 million). The remaining amount will be allocated from the state budget.
The project will be implemented by the Environmental Project Management Agency together with its partners, namely, the Ministry of Environment, the State Service of Protected Areas, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Directorates of the Aukštaitija National Park and the Labanoras Regional Park, the Dzūkija National Park and the Čepkeliai State Nature Reservation, the public institution Baltic Environment Forum, the Institute of Forest Biology and Silviculture of Aleksandras Stulginskis University, and the Varėna and Druskininkai forest enterprises.
Public Relations Division
25 January 2018