Environmental policy: Continental targets for EU conservation

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The European Union is currently evaluating the relevance of its environmental policies (see go.nature.com/vkm9r7). We have contributed to this by reviewing the 1,448 projects that were funded from 1992 to 2013 to the tune of €3 billion (US$3.2 billion) by the EU under LIFE Nature, its main financial tool for conservation programmes.

We find that a disproportionate amount of funding is directed towards species that are not under global threat and/or to regions of low conservation priority (unpublished data; see also go.nature.com/omfvfn). In our view, the EU's conservation programme would benefit from more strategic planning and more flexibility when it comes to setting conservation priorities. Fixed lists, such as those setting conservation priorities in EU directives, can rapidly become outdated.

More funding is not necessarily the answer (see, by contrast, V. Kati et al. Conserv. Biol. 29, 260270; 2015). We recommend that funds should be allocated according to continental and global needs, overriding national government interests. This would also help to prevent unnecessary duplication of efforts in different countries. In our view, continental conservation objectives, such as the EU's Biodiversity Strategy for 2020, need continental-scale plans.

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  1. *On behalf of 4 correspondents (see Supplementary information for full list).

    • Virgilio Hermoso


  1. Catalonia Forest Sciences Centre (CTFC), Solsona, Spain.

    • Virgilio Hermoso

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