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.
EU target 1
Fully implement the Birds and Habitats Directives
(Please note that information from Member States in relation to Action 1a is supplied to the European Commission via other reports. To avoid duplication of reporting, information relating to Action 1a has not been included in this report)
Action 1b: Natura 2000 (and other protected areas)
In April, 2015 new National Environmental Strategy was adopted. It is a long term document for further integration of environmental aspects, such as biodiversity and ecosystems, into different areas. The strategy sets national environmental protection vision until 2050 and targets until 2030. The strategy indicates four main priority areas: sustainable use of natural resources and waste management, improvement of environmental quality, protection of ecosystem, mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
Additionally, in January, 2015 Action Plan on Conservation of Landscape and Biodiversity for the period of 2015–2020 was adopted. This Plan mainly focuses on conservation of protected species and habitats, management of invasive species, sustainable use of fauna, flora and genetic resources, as well as on mapping and economic evaluation of ecosystems and their services, development of green infrastructure.
Several horizontal strategies and development programmes relating to the objectives of the EU biodiversity strategy were renewed or being renewed for the financial period of 2014-2020, including the most important: National Progress Programme (adopted in November, 2012), Rural Development Programme (adopted in February, 2015), Operational Programme of the Fisheries Sector for 2015-2020 (adopted August), National Forestry Development Programme (adopted in May, 2012), National Renewable Energy Development Programme, National Transport Development Programme (adopted in December 2014), National Climate Change Strategy (adopted in May, 2013) National Tourism Development Programme (adopted in March 2014), Baltic Sea Environmental Protection Strategy (adopted in August, 2010) and etc. Considerations of biodiversity is also integrated in national legal acts with respect to planning of economic and others activities, for example, requirements for environmental impact assessment are renewed.
Action 1c: Natura 2000 (and other protected areas)
At present the list of SPAs under the directive 2009/147/EB comprises 83 sites (including 3 marine sites) of the total area over 626 000 ha or 9 % of the territory of Lithuania. The list of proposed SCIs under the directive 92/43/EEC consists of 410 areas (including 2 marine sites) covering 667 000 ha or 10% of the territory of Lithuania. The established SPAs and proposed SCIs overlap to a great extent. The area of overlapping is about 385 000 ha.
With establishment of last marine SPA in July 2015 Lithuanian network of SPAs is being considered as completed (notification to the European Commission is scheduled for last quarter of 2015).
Lithuania has made a huge progress in designation of marine protected areas and is focusing now on strengthening implementation of management measures. Appropriate monitoring programme for Natura 2000 sites was developed and is being implemented; species conservation plans and management plans of protected territories have been and are being developed constantly. There are 82 management plans for Natura 2000 sites adopted and 143 management plans are in preparation process. Since the start of implementation of Natura 2000 network in Lithuania in 2004, Lithuanian public institutions implemented more than 400 individual nature management actions covering more than 14 thousand ha of natural habitats or habitats of the species.
In addition, action plans for 29 protected species, including those protected under Habitats or Birds Directives were adopted. In 2013-2015 conservation measures for 23 protected species were implemented in 129 localities.
Action 1d: Natura 2000 (and other protected areas)
Lithuania has participated in the boreal biogeographical process initiated by European Commission and Finland since 2012. Regular exchange of experience in Natura 2000 network management is taking place and network of Natura 2000 specialists is constantly growing.
Action 2: Adequate financing of Natura 2000
Biodiversity conservation is mainly funded via different EU funds and state budget, but also from European Economic Area financial instrument.
Financing of the protected areas management from the state budget decreased in 2010 and remained stable in 2011-2015. Financial sustainability is ensured in the proposed national budget for 2016-2018, though some cuts from present level are foreseen.
Substantial financial flows for biodiversity conservation come from European Structural Funds (mainly for one-off investments) and European Rural Development Fund (for one-off investments, as well as for recurring management activities and compensations for land managers in Natura 2000 areas for their income foregone due to restrictions set on the land use). Lithuanian Rural Development Programme 2014 to 2020 sets priority No 4 “Restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry” and allocates 28.9 % of total public expenditure of the programme to this priority area or 571 535 thousand Eur for this programming period.
Projects as under the LIFE and INTERREG programme are promoted as leverage to enhance cooperation, awareness raising and long term conservation actions. National co-financing for best LIFE project ideas is being granted on project ideas competition base.
Financial compensations for Natura 2000 land managers and EU payments for management of the high nature value grasslands and Natura 2000 forests are part of activities dedicated for the Target 3.
Action 3a: Stakeholder awareness and enforcement
Protected areas administrations, nature education centres, museums, national funds for nature projects and NGO ensure a large part of the general nature protection awareness of the public. Network of visitor centres and of nature schools in 35 protected areas administrations is under constant development. In 2015 new package of 25 different nature education programmes for nature schools will be prepared.
A special event for International Biodiversity Day is organised by Vilnius University Botanic Garden annually.
Most of the European funds projects have an awareness raising component.
Action 4a & 4b: Monitoring and reporting
Environmental Protection Agency ensures continuous and complex environmental monitoring, evaluation, forecast of and information on environmental quality and nature resources use in accordance with State Programme on Environmental Monitoring in 2011-2017. The State Service for Protected Areas under the Ministry of Environment coordinates activities of protected areas administrations in protected areas, including in Natura 2000 sites.
Essential element of Natura 2000 site management plan is a monitoring scheme.
Incomplete individual monitoring schemes exist for 173 sites. Incompleteness is mainly due to lack of monitoring elements for some of the species present on the site. 299 is the total number of Natura 2000 sites where species are among conservation objectives.
National monitoring methodologies exist for 62 species of Community interest. 101 is the total number of species of Community interest, which conservation status needs to be evaluated and monitoring methodologies created.
In 2015 monitoring guidance documents for species of Community interest will be either developed or improved depending on documents current status. Development or/and improvement of monitoring guidance documents includes training of specialists as well.
Since 2009 series of projects on inventory of natural habitats of Community interest in terrestrial part and in marine environment of Lithuania and on development of their monitoring programme has been implemented. Methodological base for monitoring of natural habitats of Community interest will be fully developed by the end of 2015.
EU target 2
Maintain and restore ecosystems and their services
In general, Lithuania meets air quality requirements and air quality could be assessed as satisfactory or good. The limits of air pollutants are not exceeded with some exceptions in bigger cities, where the limits of particular matters are exceed several days per year.
Diffuse source agricultural pollution can account for 45-80% of all the load of nitrogen pollution washed to waterbodies. In Lithuania, due to non-point source pollution 222 surface water bodies out of 1177 do not meet the criteria of good ecological status. This accounts for 19% of the total number of all water bodies.
In 2007, the society was introduced with the main water protection issues in Nemunas, Venta, Lielupe and Dauguva river basin districts. Later the management plans and action programmes of measures were prepared for the aforementioned river basin districts. These documents were approved by the resolutions of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania in 2010. The river basin districts management plans are updated every six years. The first management plans will be implemented during the period from 2010 to 2015.
Based on the information submitted in the first river basin districts management plans during the period from 2005 to 2009, 17% of 832 river waters bodies were of high ecological status, 24% – of good, 50% – of moderate status, 8% – of poor and 1% of bad ecological status. In 2015, the renewed management plans for Nemunas, Venta, Lielupe and Dauguva river basin districts will be finally drafted and it will include the assessment of the ecological status of rivers and its change during the period from 2010 to 2014.
In 2006–2011, high and good ecological status was determined for 79–89% of all examined water bodies in terms of total phosphorus. Based on the total nitrogen, approx. 82% of lakes and reservoirs that were examined during the period from 2004 to 2011 have met the requirements of high or good ecological status.
When summarising the results obtained in 2004–2011, no essential tendencies of the changes of average concentrations of total phosphorus and total nitrogen, salinity, oil hydrocarbons were observed.
Action 5: Knowledge of ecosystems and their services
Lithuania has started the preparation for the National study on the distribution and state of the main ecosystems and their services on Lithuanian territory. The two-year study is expected to begin in early 2019 and provide the following:
- Maps and assessment of the status of the priority ecosystems in Lithuania;
- Assessment of the status and maps of at least 24 main ecosystem services, as well as their socio-cultural valuation; in Lithuania (national-scale);
- Methodological basis for the mapping and assessment of ecosystem services on national level;
- Suggestions on the main ways and measures to foster the integration of the ecosystem services approach into sectoral policies;
- Publication introducing ecosystem services concept and first results of the Study to policy makers, academia and general public
It is expected that the study results will considerably increase knowledge of ecosystem services in Lithuania and improve integration of biodiversity considerations into sectoral policies.
Action 6a & 6b: Ecosystem restoration and green infrastructure
Action Plan on Conservation of Landscape and Biodiversity for the period of 2015–2020 sets a strategic goal to halt biodiversity loss and degradation of ecosystems and their services and, where possible, to restore them. The actions indicated in this Plan focuses on protection of ecosystems and natural habitats and maintenance of viable populations of species in the natural environment, restoration of degraded ecosystems and habitats and support for the restoration of the populations of threatened species; initiation of mapping of ecosystems and their services, promotion of green infrastructure.
Process of preparation and implementation of management plans for protected areas as well as action plans for protected species is ongoing.
The backbone of green infrastructure in Lithuania is the national legislation on ecological network (nature carcass), which requires to incorporate protected areas and other ecologically and biologically valuable areas into spatial planning processes with the aims to protect biodiversity, landscape and natural recreational resources, to make interlinkages among the most ecologically valuable habitats, to form migration corridors, to enhance areas of forests, to regulate development of urbanization and agriculture.
EU target 3
Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity
Target 3a: Agriculture
There are 1,52 Mio hectares of high nature value areas, including protected areas, natural grasslands, protected areas, various types of wetlands in Lithuania. That comprises ~23 percent of the whole territory.
Farmland Bird index shows common decrease of wild birds population on farmland from 2000. Nevertheless, from 2006 until 2013 (in shorter period) Farmland Bird Index remained stable.
Participation of farmers in biological diversity conservation schemes proposed by national rural development programme is considered as not sufficient. In 2007-2013 only 7.5 percent of whole farmland was covered by rural development measures designed for biodiversity conservation.
New Rural Development Programme for 2014-2020 continues supporting broad measures of landscape and biodiversity conservation, water and soil protection, including conservation of Natura 2000 areas and areas with natural constraints or with high nature value farming. Programme addresses the problem of land abandonment in areas with natural and other specific constraints by supporting maintenance of farming in these areas. Programme also supports restoration and yearly specific management of habitats of globally endangered bird species Aquatic warbler. Further more specific species and habitats conservation schemes are still needed and are under development.
The Programme foresees measures in arable land to protect waterbodies and/or avoid soil erosion.
Target 3b: Forestry
One third (32,6 percent) of Lithuania‘s territory is covered by forests (2174 thousand hectares). State forests constitute 49,6 percent (1077,7 thousand hectares), private forests 39,2 percent (852,6 thousand hectares). According to national law, Lithuanian forests attributed to 4 different management groups (the criterion of this differentiation is the main function of the forest). I group of strictly protected (with no management) forests covers 26,3 thousand hectares (1,2 percent of all forest). Forest ecosystems develop here naturally and any economic activity is forbidden in these forests. II group of forests covers 266,8 thousand hectares (12,3 percent) and serves for biodiversity conservation and recreation purposes. Age of final felling is substantially postponed here; other use of forests is strictly regulated. III group of other forests is mainly designated along waterbodies and in other forests with prevailing protective function. Economic activity here is less restricted, these forests cover 331,4 thousand hectares (15,2 percent). IV group of forests or commercial forests are managed for economic purposes comprises and constitute 1 549,2 thousand hectares or 71,3 percent of the whole forest area.
National Forestry Development Programme among other objectives aims at protection and enhancement of sustainability of forest ecosystems.
National legislation requires a forest management plan for each forest holding. Only limited activity is allowed without forest management plan. Requirements for forest management plan content and its preparation procedure oblige to take duly account of biodiversity features in the area when forest management measures are planned.
Action 10: Agricultural genetic diversity
Plant genetic resources and domesticated animals genetic resources are regulated separately in national legal acts in Lithuania.
Two national institutions are coordinating and harmonizing the relevant technical activities with respect to genetic resources: Plant Gene Bank and National Farm Animal Genetic Resources Coordinating Centre. There are several other institutes dealing with plant genetic resources conservation activities in the country.
The general principle is that plant genetic resources can be freely accessed for plant selection and other bona fide targets as scientific research, seed collecting, reproduction, exchange of plant genetic resources, for human needs (food, medicines). The plant genetic resources should be used in a way that genetic resources are not damaged or destroyed and biodiversity is conserved. Regulations on protected species and other relevant legal acts on biodiversity conservation should be followed.
At the moment there are about 4000 objects that are treated as plant genetic resources. The number is increasing every year.
Every year the Ministry of Environment allocates some funds for preservation of collections of plant genetic resources
EU target 4
Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources and ensuring good environmental status of the marine environment
Action 13a: Fish stock management
Operational Programme of the Fisheries Sector for 2015-2020 identifies the need for reduction of the fishing effects on marine environment, including the avoidance and reduction, as far as possible, of unwanted catches:
- using innovations related to marine biological resources;
- improving, adapting and implementing new fishing gears and methods;
- adapting fishing ports and landing sites to facilitate the compliance with the obligation to land all catches;
- implementing conservation measures;
- supporting collection of waste from the sea.
The protection and restoration of aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems by implementing measures aimed at protection and enhancement of inland fauna and flora.
It is envisaged that about one-fifth of EMFF investments for Lithuania will be allocated for achieving a greater resource-efficiency and minimising the environmental impact. During the period of 2014-2020 it is planned to adapt in the Lithuanian fisheries the fishing gears that increase selectivity or that minimise the negative impact of fishing activities on the marine and inland waters ecosystems, to provide the infrastructure for landing or processing of unwanted catches, and marine litter collection from the sea. Measures of such type are targeted towards a greater resource-efficiency, by reducing unwanted by-catches and discards of fish as well as negative impact on the environment and stocks. This will directly contribute to the implementation of the objective to ensure efficient use of resources set in the Europe 2020 strategy.
Special attention should be devoted to the fact that pond aquaculture farms are the sites where many rare species of birds nest, settle and stay during migration and habitats of rare species of amphibians and therefore it is important to ensure the continuity of activities of such farms. Sometimes the change in fish growing techniques in such farms can have significant impact on animal species finding shelter within such farms and on Natura 2000 sites located in the same river basin. Therefore, support will be provided to pond aquaculture farms that have to adapt in Natura 2000 sites to higher standards of operation or incur losses due to established additional requirements for the activities of such farms. According to the data of 2013, in Lithuania three pond aquaculture farms fall within the bird habitat protection sites under Natura 2000.
The Operational Programme will contribute to the implementation of the sustainable development objective, which also aims at the climate change mitigation and adaptation policy in the following main areas:
- implementing sustainable principles in business: supporting the development, adaptation and implementation of energy and resource efficient processes (e.g., management systems or energy audits) and technologies in fisheries enterprises and fish landing sites;
- promoting the coherent use of resources: implementing precautionary measures provided for in the CFP regulation, supporting investments in more selective fishing techniques and gears reducing physical and biological impact on the environment, ensuring the conservation of landscape and biodiversity and improvement of condition, including aqua-biodiversity and functioning of ecosystems; and ensuring effective collection of data and fishing control;
- consulting fisheries enterprises on the matters of environmental sustainability.
Action 13b: Fish stock management
Other documents and actions with respect to fisheries:
Cormorant Management Action Plan was approved in 2013, and its objective was the prevention and reduction of damage caused by cormorants in fish farms as well as for forestry, without endangering the cormorant population in the nature
Lithuanian aquaculture sector development plan for 2014-2020.
Eel Resources Management Plan, In the period of recent 4 years about 2 Mio 154 thousand glass eels were introduced into more than 110 inland water bodies.
National Atlantic Sturgeon Population Restoration Programme for 2012-2020 was started to implement in 2011.
Lithuanian water bodies are populated every year with salmon, eel, sea trout, carp, pike, zander, tench, cray fish juveniles.
Fines for illegal fishing are considerable.
Restoration of spawning areas and opening up of fish migration routes has been started in watercourses, which is the basis and prerequisite for the restoration of fish resources.
EU target 5
Combat Invasive Alien Species
Invasive species, introduced due to the expanding trade, tourism and cross-border freight traffic pose a serious threat to Lithuania's biodiversity and ecosystems. This threat is increasing - plant and animal species introduced into new habitats may threaten ecosystems by disturbing fragile balance between native flora and fauna. Climate change accelerates shifts in species ranges therefore problem of invasive alien species become more significant. The effects of climate change in Lithuania have been started to explore just a few years ago and so far its research is of a general nature.
The national list of invasive species contains 39 species (plants and animals). The list is constantly review and complemented by new invasive species. The Invasive Species Control Council which consists of representatives of public and scientific institutions has constative role on the invasive species issues. There are general recommendations for eradication of invasive species adopted.
Measures for control of invasive alien species (IAS) have to be planned and undertaken in order to minimise their impact on species and habitats of Community interest. 7 invasive alien species are in focus of current project under implementation with assistance of EU structural funds: 2 mammal species (Nyctereutes procyonoides, Mustela vison), 1 fish species (Perccottus glenii), 1 crustacean species (Orconectes limosus) and 3 plant species (Acer negundo, Heracleum sosnovskyi, Lupinus polyphyllus). 660 ha of plant invasive species were managed.
At the moment Lithuania is working on proper implementation of EU Invasive Species regulation by improving national legislation.
EU target 6
Help avert global biodiversity loss
Action 18a: Resources for global biodiversity conservation
Biodiversity conservation is mainly funded via different EU funds and state budget (Environmental Protection Support Programme), but also from European Economic Area Financial instruments.
Rather considerable part of income comes from Hunting and Fisheries Licence fees (about 3 Mio euros)
The implementation of NCDP measures presumes the increasing of resources directed for the conservation of biodiversity resources. Other significant sources of funding for environmental conservation are the Environmental Protection Support Programme, as well as budgets of municipalities and regions.
Law on Charge of State Nature Resources was adopted in 1991.
Various environmental subsidies are paid in the framework of RDP, some of which are designed to directly support biodiversity (Natura payments for private forestland, Natura payments for agricultural land, subsidies for the management of semi-natural habitats, subsidies for endangered breeds of livestock, subsidies for growing plants of local varieties) i.e. The preservation of biodiversity is funded via different EU structural funds.
Preservation of biodiversity is also funded through other funds, such as LIFE, LIFE+, INTERREG, EMP etc.
Currently, national parks (and few nature parks) collect entrance fees, and such income represents at the same time a significant part of their own income. Nature parks collect fees mainly for other services (guided tours, schools in nature, special programs, etc.).
Lithuania signed Nagoya Protocol in 2011. At the moment preparation for implementation of EU ABS regulation and ratification of Nagoya Protocol is ongoing.