The Ecosystem Approach for the Marine Environment and the Position of Humans: Lessons from the EU Natura 2000 Regime
in David Langlet and Rosemary Rayfuse, The Ecosystem Approach in Ocean Planning and Governance, Brill/Nijhoff 2019, 195-220
26 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 1, 2019
It is often emphasized that humans are also part of the ecosystem and that therefore the ecosystem approach includes human use. This chapter discusses the question of what this consideration should mean for implementing the ecosystem approach. For this purpose attention focuses on the Natura 2000 regime and its implementation. Although this regime is not explicitly based on the ecosystem approach, its legal requirements connect well with the characteristics of the ecosystem approach. Furthermore, much experience has been gained in implementing the Natura 2000 regime and a substantial part of the legal debates focuses on the relationship between human ambitions and effective protection of nature in the EU. From these experiences important lessons may be drawn for the implementation of the ecosystem approach under other legal regimes, such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The discussions show the difficulty of applying an ecosystem approach at a moment in time where the ecosystem has already been substantially affected and – related to this – the importance of ecological restoration. The discussions also show that it is crucial to be aware of the risks of giving too much space in the system for balancing interests: companies and governments will search for approaches to prioritize social and economic interests over environmental ones. If the aim is to ensure inclusion of humans as part of an ecosystem in a manner that ensures the ecosystem is either in or will be restored to intact and healthy conditions, then strict legal requirements to prevent over-use are essential.
Keywords: Ecosystem-based approach, ecological restoration, marine protection, human-nature relationship, Natura 2000, Habitats Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, sustainability
JEL Classification: K32, K33, Q20, Q22, Q24, Q25, Q28, Q57
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation