News September 2023

The conservation goals reviewed

Natura 2000 aims to sustainably conserve European habitat types and species. To this end, the Flemish government established conservation objectives ('instandhoudingdoelen', IHD), so that it is clear which European nature in Flanders must be preserved, restored or developed. There are goals at the Flemish level (the regional IHD or G-IHD) and goals per Natura 2000 site (S-IHD). Periodically, the goals are evaluated.

INBO launched a first round of evaluations in 2019. The synthesis report of that review is now available.

Based on the recent knowledge gathered, we see no need for a general revision of the G-IHD or S-IHD, but we do recommend an adjustment for quite a few Habitats Directive species. Recent evolutions in population occurrences make adjustments in targets, prioritizations and measures per site desirable. Target refinements are needed for certain species groups. For Annex I habitats, however, the targets generally remain sufficiently up-to-date.

We recommend paying more attention to management as a function of species. Sometimes species can benefit from the realization of habitat goals, but this is not always the case. Some have specific habitat requirements that are not always met by mere vegetation management.

It is also necessary that Annex I habitats and habitats of species be embedded in sufficiently large and functioning landscape patches interconnected by ecological infrastructure. This will increase their resilience to external pressures such as climate change.

Maud Raman, Jeroen Vanden Borre

Read more (report in Dutch with English summary): Raman M., Vanden Borre J., De Knijf G., Adriaens D., Decleer K., Devos K., De Saeger S., Maes D., Mergeay J., Paelinckx D., Vermeersch G., Van Landuyt W. & Hoffmann M. (2023). Evaluatie van de instandhoudingsdoelstellingen met aanbevelingen voor het beleid. Rapporten van het Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek 2023 (25). Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek, Brussel. DOI:

You can also consult a summary of the partial reports.

Image above: European otter (photo Yves Adams - Vildaphoto)


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