European policies and land stewardship
Land stewardship as a tool is available for organisations and landowners anywhere in Europe no matter the legal framework. Currently, many European policies and legal instruments promote participatory approaches, contractual measures and other actions that directly involve landowners, civic society and the private sector.
In fact, land stewardship can be used as a practical tool to implement biodiversity conservation in Europe as it complements and reflects the priorities of many different policies and legal instruments. It can help create opportunities for nature conservation in individual Member States and contribute to biodiversity conservation in common ways across Europe. See table 3 in the online Land Stewardship Manual.
Stewardship also embraces enough elements to become a key communication platform that engages Europeans in caring for nature, therefore providing an opportunity for active and direct participation in European policies and instruments of nature conservation that are under the umbrella of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.
Land stewardship, Natura 2000 sites and the European countryside
The Natura 2000 network, with its legal, financial and administrative framework, can provide a solid institutional basis for the development of land stewardship in the EU. Promoting land stewardship as a useful tool to involve stakeholders in the management of Natura 2000 sites, ecological corridors and stepping stones (e.g. green infrastructure) is timely, relevant and appropriate. In fact, land stewardship could become an icon concept for social involvement and participation in the European network of nature and biodiversity.
Through centuries of farming and nature management, many European landscapes have evolved and their biodiversity has increased. In fact, many species are linked to man-made landscapes. Biodiversity rich agricultural areas are often referred to as high nature value (HNV) farmland. By supporting local and traditional agricultural practices, communicating their benefits and involving local people in their biodiversity and culturally rich landscapes, land stewardship can continue to protect HNV farmland and contribute towards the Europe 2020 targets.
The multi-faceted, cross cutting approach of land stewardship can be harnessed to support European nature conservation policies and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and strengthen the long-term protection of biodiversity across Europe.
Read more about European policies and stewardship in the online Land Stewardship Manual.