The ecosystem-based approach for the marine environment and the position of humans: Lessons from the EU natura 2000 regime

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    In policy documents and the literature it has often been emphasised that the concept of ecosystem-based management includes human use of natural resources as humans are also part of the ecosystem. This chapter aims to contribute to the broader discussion of what this consideration should mean for implementing the ecosystem-based approach. For the purpose of discussing this theme, the chapter focuses on the area protection regime of the EU Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive - the Natura 2000 regime - and its implementation.
    First, the relevance of the Natura 2000 regime for the marine environment will briefly be introduced (Section 2 (2.1)). In this section the question of whether the Natura 2000 regime is based on the ecosystem approach also receives attention (Section 2 (2.2)). Next, attention focuses on the question of what the challenges are in applying an ecosystem-based approach to natural resources at a moment in time where the ecosystem has already been substantially affected (Section 3). Based on this understanding, the Natura 2000 regime is related to the ecosystem-based approach more specifically, with special attention to the importance of ecological restoration (Section 4). Then it is time to strengthen the focus on the place of humans in the ecosystem by discussing the implementation practices in the Netherlands. The various approaches that have been developed by politicians and other stakeholders in order to weaken the legal protection of Natura 2000 in the benefit of ‘space for human activities’ will be discussed (Section 5). The final section contains the main conclusions and some lessons learned that may be useful when implementing the ecosystem-based approach under other legal regimes that are relevant for the marine environment, such as the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (Section 6).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe ecosystem approach in ocean planning and governance
    Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives from Europe and beyond
    EditorsDavid Langlet, Rosemary Rayfuse
    PublisherBrill Online
    Number of pages26
    ISBN (Electronic)9789004389984
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

    Publication series

    NamePublications on Ocean Development
    ISSN (Print)0924-1922


    • Ecosystem approach
    • ecosystem-based management
    • Natura 2000
    • marine environment
    • precautionary principle
    • nature conservation law
    • marine strategy framework directive
    • ecological restoration
    • biodiversity


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