EU Biodiversity strategy
To report on progress to the EU 2020 biodiversity strategy, the European Commission extracted relevant information from the EU Member States’ 5th national reports to the CBD. Of the 5 countries which had not finalized their national reports at the time of the synthesis (26th of August 2015), Greece, Malta, Portugal and Lithuania provided information to be included in the synthesis.
The 5th national reports were examined, and relevant information on selected actions under Targets 1-6 of the EU biodiversity strategy was directly copied. Thus, the information presented here is in the original language and wording of the 5th national reports.
The focus was on information that is particular to the respective Member State rather than referencing EU wide information. In addition, only information that is not directly reported to the European Commission by Member States was retrieved from the reports. Each Member State had the opportunity to review the synthesis of its report and to provide additional input. For more information, please view here. The 5th national report for Hungary can be downloaded here.
In addition to the country synthesis which is shown below, Hungary provided information on the cross-linkages between their national strategy and the European and global biodiversity targets.
Action 1c: Natura 2000 (and other protected areas)
(Please note that information from member states in relation to EU Target 1a is supplied to the European Commission via other reports. To avoid duplication of reporting, information relating to EU Target 1a has not been included in this report)
After the extension of the Hungarian Natura 2000 network in 2010, the Commission concluded that no further site designation is needed for any of the Natura 2000 trigger species or habitat types. Therefore, the Natura 2000 network can be considered complete in Hungary.
Management plans lay the foundation of the management intervention to ensure the maintenance and restoration of the conservation status of species and habitats. In addition to the management plans specifically designed for SACs, the Natura 2000 aspects are incorporated into the updated or new management plans of nationally protected areas, and into the updated forest plans. Natura 2000 management plans: Until 2013, 40 management plans for Natura 2000 sites have been elaborated, and further 243 Natura 2000 management plans have been financed from EARDF sources. This new, large package of management plans will be finalised by May 2015, for a total SAC area of 480.000 hectares. Those sites were targeted that overlap less than 50% with nationally protected areas (for which national management plans are or will be in place) and are predominantly non-forested sites. In addition, a further package of management plans are drafted for 12 sites from the Swiss Contribution. Thanks to these efforts, the coverage of the Natura 2000 sites with site-specific management plans has grown from 7.8% in 2012 to 46.28% in December 2014 and will reach 56.19% in 2015. In Natura 2000 forests, the new forest plans also incorporate Natura 2000 management obligations since 2011.
Action 2: Adequate financing of Natura 2000
From the EU financial package for 2015-2020 Hungary allocated a substancial amount of resources to implement actions aiming to improve the conservation status of species and habitats of Community interest. As a result of interventions co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (habitat restoration measures and investments to improve management infrastructure) the conservation status of at least 10% of habitat types and species is expected to improve by the end of the period (2023). The target area of direct conservation interventions will cover at least 100 000 hectares, representing app. 5% of the national Natura 2000 network. In Natura 2000 grasslands, farmers are compensated for land use restrictions that apply under Government Decree 269/2007 since the 2007/2008 economic year. The compensation is 38 EUR/ha/year. The scheme has been well received by farmers, it is spreading and compensation is paid for a total Natura 2000 grassland area of 250 thousand hectares.
In Natura 2000 forests, the new forest plans incorporate Natura 2000 management obligations since 2011. The compensation for these obligations is based on Decree No. 41/2012 (IV.27.) on the detailed rules for compensation to be granted for forestry management on Natura 2000 forest sites from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. In some cases, this compensation may amount to 230 EUR/ha/year. This compensation has been applied in 90 thousand hectares of Natura 2000 forest by private foresters.
The second level of the subsidy scheme is based on the voluntary agri-environmental scheme and the related investment type land use measures. Farmers operating in Natura 2000 areas are favoured by the scheme, and thus 330 thousand hectares where agri-environmental payments have been made in 2009-2014 belong to the Natura 2000 network. The operation of the Environment and Energy Operational Program was one of the main funding sources for nature conservation development projects in 2007-2013. 184 projects were launched, which covered more than 130 thousand hectares of Natura 2000 and nationally protected areas, with a total value of over 120 million euros.
In addition, the LIFE+ program has a traditionally important role. Between 2010-2014, 13 projects gained a total of 32.6 million euros of EU co-financing, mainly for large-scale habitat restoration projects and comprehensive species protection programmes.
Maintain and restore ecosystems and their services
Management plans lay the foundation of the management intervention to ensure the maintenance and restoration of the conservation status of species and habitats. Other plans based on the relevant legislation may also be prepared, which have a nature conservation purpose or influence conservation activities (e.g. forest plans, spatial plans, river basin management plans, game management plans).
Action 6b: Ecosystem restoration and green infrastructure
The backbone of green infrastructure in Hungary is the National Ecological Network, which incorporated protected areas and Natura 2000 sites complemented with other natural and semi-natural adjacent areas that would account for 36% of the total area of the country.
The zone of the National Ecological Network is entrenched in the spatial planning of settlements. The Act No. XXVI. of 2003 on National Spatial Plan (its amendment entered into force in 2014.) states, that the core areas and ecological corridor areas of the ecological network can not be considered as areas to be built in settlement processes.
In order to safeguard ecosystem services, it is important to know their status and changes in these services. Based on a large-scale vegetation mapping carried out between 2003 and 2006 across the micro-regions of Hungary, the Natural Capital Index (NCI) was evaluated in 2008. Under the Environment and Energy Efficiency Operational Programme (EEEOP) mapping and assessment of ecosystem services are planned to be supported in the period of 2014-2020 in order to get better understanding of the status of ecosystems and their services.
Based on the survey of the European Environmental Agency published in 2011, Hungary’s habitats are moderately fragmented in comparison with the EU average. There are significant differences between regions, the areas around the capital (Budapest) are the most fragmented and south-east Hungary is the least fragmented.
Level of habitat fragmentation in Europe (Source: EEA/FOEN, 2011) http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figures/landscape-fragmentation-in-nuts-x/landscape-fragmentation-in-nuts-x/image_original
Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity
Target 3a & 3b
In Hungary, the proportion of agricultural area (57.4 %) is much higher, while the proportion of forest area is lower than the EU average. The area affected by fishing activities is small, the bulk of which is natural inland fishing. In Hungary the extent of areas withdrawn from cultivation as well as the extent of forests and forest plantations, reeds and fishponds have increased between 2000 and 2013 (the total of managed forested area was 1.917.633 ha in 2000, 2.055.633 ha in 2013), while the rest of the cultivated areas have decreased. Areas withdrawn from cultivation include artificial surfaces, roads and other infrastructure elements but wetlands are also counted into this category. The largest part of this expansion is mainly from the expansion of artificial surfaces due to infrastructural development and the expansion of settlements.
The proportion of forested area in Hungary is 20,8%, from which 57,5% is consisted of native species.
Target 3a: Agriculture
A number of measures have been taken to promote sustainable consumption and production (e.g. environmental education, encourage environmentally friendly transportation, organic food consumption, efficient resource use) but still much more effort is needed to achieve efficient and sound use of natural resources at all levels. Therefore, the issue of sustainable consumption is addressed in details by the fourth National Environmental Programme (2015-2020).
The extent of grasslands of the total agricultural land has shrunk to 8.2% from 12.9% in 20 years. This ratio is less than half of the EU average. However, the proportion of grasslands under protection (included in the Natura 2000 network) is more than double of the EU average. Decreasing number of grazing animals and under-grazing often result in problems in the maintenance of grasslands. Due to the distorting effect of agricultural subsidies and the decrease in the number of grazing animals made farmers turn grasslands to arable lands.
Target 3b: Forestry
Due to awareness-raising, information dissemination and legislative requirements native species are more often used for afforestation. The coverage of native tree species has increased by more than 1 200 ha annually. The proportion of forests with management aiming at continuous forest cover has been increasing (102 000 ha in 2011) but further increase is needed (until reaching 26-27%). Forest section with primarily nature conservation function are (453 685 ha in total in 2011), Since the beginning of the last decade those types of forests are increasing. Forest reserves account for 0.63% (13 000 ha) of the total forest area. In these areas only special forest intervention and management – where appropriate – may be permitted.
Action 9a: Rural development and biodiversity
Rural development, including agriculture is one of the sectors, where incentives and subsidies have a significant role. The National Rural Development Strategy 2012-2020 sets a target to maintain financial schemes that support agricultural biodiversity and to revise harmful subsidies. Although the revision and elimination of harmful subsidies can be observed in certain important strategic documents, the success of these targeted actions certainly lies in their effective implementation.
In recent years the extent of agricultural area joining the agri-environmental programme has increased to 20% (of the total agricultural area). Farmers operating in Natura 2000 areas are favoured by the scheme, and thus 330 thousand hectares where agri-environmental payments have been made in 2009-2014 belong to the Natura 2000 network.
Action 10: Agricultural genetic diversity
Special emphasis is put on maintaining the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals, therefore the two national institutions are coordinating and harmonizing the relevant technical activities:
- the Research Centre for Farm Animal Gene Conservation (Gödöllo, Hungary) regarding farmed and domesticated animals, and
- the Center for Plant Diversity (Tápiószele, Hungary) regarding cultivated plants and the ex situ conservation of wild plant species. There are several other gene banks and institutes dealing with gene conservation activities in the country. Two technical advisory bodies have been assisting the activities on gene conservation: the Committee for Plant Genetic Resources and the Committee for Indigenous Domesticated Animal Breeds. The Hungarian Ministry of Rural Development – with the involvement of the Committee for Plant Genetic Resources – prepared a Strategy for the Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources for Food (2014-2020), which was endorsed in 2013. The vision of this technical strategy is “to safeguard on the long-term the diversity of domestic plant and microorganism genetic resources for food without their genetic erosion, and if possible, to explore their real economic values and widely promote their sustainable use under in-situ (on-farm) circumstances as well as to promote their use in research, education and national plant breeding activities”. In order to raise awareness an agrobiodiversity sub-website was established in 2010 under the national CHM.
The building of a safety vault was finished in the end of 2014.
Target 3a & 3b
Instead of traditional fishing recreational fishing became more popular in recent years. Recreational fishing (angling) can play a key role in sound management of fish stocks by shifting to native species and excluding non-native fish-species in fish stocking. The modification of fish management plans towards more sustainable fishing (angling) can contribute towards sustainable management of fish stocks.
EU target 4
Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources and ensuring good environmental status of the marine environment
Combat Invasive Alien Species
Controlling invasive species and preventing their further spread in the country is an important conservation objective for Hungary. The collection of reliable data on invasive alien species has been going on for a while. National legislation prohibits the unauthorized introduction of new invasive organisms and regulates that agricultural lands must be maintained free of weeds. Currently 13.1% of natural and near-natural habitats have been heavily infested with invasive species. Implementation of the Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Concil on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species started in 2015.
Action 16: Instrument on Invasive Alien Species
Under the coordination of the Ministry of Agriculture, the non-official national list of invasive alien species has been developed. Out of them 17 terrestrial plant species are classified as posing particularly high ecological risk. As for animals, the list includes 35 species, 4 mammals, 13 fish, 1 bug, 3 crayfish and 12 molluscs.An additional list includes 19 species that have not yet entered the country but could pose ecological risk to native species. This informal list gives a good basic for the Hungarian position filling the list of invasive alien species of Union concern specifies by the Article 4 of the Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species
Action 17c: Drivers of biodiversity loss
Several parts of the NBS deal directly or indirectly with eliminating harmful subsidies or minimizing their negative impacts, these include for instance the following:
- With regard to ecosystem services: NBS includes actions such as: “Incorporating the economic valuation of ecosystem services into impact assessments and cost-benefit analysis” or “Integrating aspects of the conservation and enhancement of ecosystem services in infrastructure developments having direct effect on the quality of ecosystem services”;
- With regard to multifunctional agriculture: NBS includes actions such as: “Review and if necessary modify financial support systems adversely affecting agrobiodiversity conservation”, “Maintenance and operation of financial and payment systems serving the conservation of agricultural biodiversity”.
Although the revision and elimination of harmful subsidies can be observed in certain important strategic documents, the success of these targeted actions certainly lies in their effective implementation.
Action 18a: Resources for global biodiversity conservation
In March 2014 the Government adopted the International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid Strategy of Hungary for the period of 2014-2020. According to this strategy Hungary tries to assist the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Subject to its capacity and other conditions, Hungary tries to play a role in international donor activities by taking into account issues such as responsible management of natural resources and environmental health considerations.
Action 20: Access to genetic resources and sharing of benefits
Hungary signed the Nagoya Protocol in June 2011. In order to be among those states, whose ratification counts to the entry into force of the Protocol, the Hungarian Promulgation Act of the Nagoya Protocol (Act No. VIII of 2014) was approved on 4 February 2014 and entered into force on 12 February 2014. Hungary deposited its ratification instrument on 29. April 2014. The preparation of the user legislation is in progress.
Due to its relatively high biodiversity, Hungary is a provider and a user at the same time. Therefore it is considered important to prepare access legislation as well. The two regulations are being prepared in parallel, and. both are expected to be completed by October 2015.