The challenge of financing the implementation of Natura 2000 – Empirical evidence from six European Union Member States

Maria Geitzenauer*, Marieke Blondet, Jessica De Koning, Francesca Ferranti, Metodi Sotirov, Gerhard Weiss, Georg Winkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Natura 2000, which is the core pillar of the European Union's biodiversity conservation policy, is an ambitious and complex venture that requires funding to be successful. A major challenge is said to be a lack of available funding, and a low uptake of allocated funds is also reported. However, in in-depth analysis has still not been produced to assess the approaches to funding, the reasons for these approaches and their impact regarding the achievement of the aims of Natura 2000. Thus, with this article, we intend to fill this gap. To accomplish this, a case study analysis was carried out in six selected EU Member States: Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK.

In our study, we perceived different approaches which we sum up to two main types of approaches that were present in the Member States to different degrees. The first type was to find the funding necessary for the required activities, and the second was to delay the implementation of Natura 2000. The major reasons for the different approaches were related to domestic political power realities. The funding approaches impacted onto the attractiveness of EU co-financing instruments, and the sustainability of the schemes. Alternative approaches were either absent or declining in importance. The economic benefits were not perceived on the ground.

We conclude that neither a “one size fits all” approach to funding Natura 2000 will work nor will a universal claim for “more money”. Therefore, a successful funding strategy ultimately necessitates effective interventions at institutional levels, the business environment and the local level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-13
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • European Union
  • Financing instrument
  • Forest policy
  • Nature conservation
  • Policy implementation


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