The Parliament of Catalonia has approved the creation of the Catalan Nature Agency, a new public-law entity that will be responsible for protection, planning, management, restoration, improvement and study of the natural environment (terrestrial and marine) in Catalonia.
The creation of the Nature Agency addresses the urgent need for Catalonia to have a modern, decentralised, agile organisational structure that can act autonomously to pursue environmental, economic and social opportunities related to the conservation of biodiversity.
A wide range of actors – including administrative bodies, agencies, academics and experts involved in environmental conservation in Catalonia – have been calling for the creation of an agency of this kind since the early 1990s.
The initiative, which is also part of the Government Plan for the 12th parliamentary term, is aimed at achieving greater efficiency and transparency and increasing co-responsibility with territorial actors in nature conservation policy. It also forms part of the Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Strategy, approved by the Executive Council in June 2018.
Aims and areas of responsibility
The Agency’s responsibilities will include biodiversity policy throughout Catalonia (for both terrestrial and marine habitats and species), geological heritage, the system that covers protected natural spaces, wildlife recovery centres and efforts to combat invasive species, and ensuring the ecological functionality of green infrastructure. In all of these areas, every effort will be made to maximise participation, co-management and governance with economic entities and organisations and other key actors in Catalonia.
Another priority will be to foster conservation of natural heritage and biodiversity in a way that is compatible with territorial development, economic and social activity, job creation, entrepreneurship and innovation. The goal is for nature policies to generate added value in the territory, driving economic activity and making it easier for people to remain in rural areas.
Greater participation and proximity to the territory
The new agency will have a diverse governing board made up of 19 members. Ten will be representatives of Catalan government ministries with responsibility for the environment, agriculture, livestock, forestry policy, hunting and fishing, development and rural surveillance, and other relevant areas. The rest will be representatives of local authorities, the primary sector, owners of forest land, the conservation sector and the scientific community.