Implementation of the NBSAP
Lithuania’s National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (NBCSAP) was published in 1998. The NBCSAP was designed to cover a 20-year period with most of the actions meant to be implemented within 5 years. It was foreseen that the Action Plan should be revised five years following initial publication, but unfortunately this has not been done.
Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets
Lithuania has made some progress toward the 2020 targets, notably in terms of the conservation of natural resources. Although Target 11 regarding terrestrial protected areas has not yet been met, its network already covers 15.64% of the country’s territory, having increased from 12% since 2004. Milestones have notably been reached in the forest environment, with an increase of 2% in forest cover since 2001 due to a large reforestation policy, a decline of 11% in the logging rate in the last few years, 54% of the Natura 2000 network composed of forest and 30% of all forests included in protected areas. Similarly, almost all wetland habitats are now listed as protected under the EU Habitats Directive, 82 special protected areas have been designated under the Birds Directive and 92 of a total of 406 potential Sites of Community Importance under the Habitats Directive was approved by the government. Lithuania is also developing a comprehensive network of marine and coastal protected areas, covering over 10% of territorial waters, with the adoption of a Sea Coastal Zone Management Program for the 2008-2013 period with some positive trends already recorded in terms of fish species recovery (e.g. Alosa fallax fallax have sufficiently recovered to allow fishing again). Overall, more than 100 nature management plans for various protected areas (e.g. Forests, Coastal, Inland Water, Wetlands and Meadows, Anthropogenic Environment and the “Nature Frame”) were prepared from 2006 to 2008 that focused on concrete actions on conservation, restoration and management of valuable/rare habitats and species, with 70 such plans now officially approved.
Lithuania undertakes a number of successful measures dedicated to species conservation (for instance, strict protection measures and breeding resulted in an increase of the salmon population) and reinforces its legislation (with initiatives such as the adoption of the Law on Sea Protection and the Law on Fisheries; ratification of the Bonn Convention; establishment of legal acts for protective zones of birds’ wintering sites, resting sites, fish spawning grounds by amending the Law on Protected Areas; development of the coastal protection regulations; and regulations for the protection of fish spawning grounds). It also promotes ex situ conservation through the establishment of botanical reserves, notably for the natural meadows. Lithuania also has the fastest expanding rate of organic farming in the European Union, demonstrating a steady increase from 9 organic farms in 1993 (148 ha) to 2504 farms in 2012, occupying almost 155,780 ha.
While there are no indigenous communities for the purposes of Art. 8(j) of the Convention in Lithuania, people carrying traditional knowledge could, to some extent, be regarded as indigenous but they do not form distinct communities. The country enhances public participation and awareness, through the National Educational Strategy (2007-2015), as well as different national and local programs. Similarly, the Rural Development Programme for Lithuania (2007-2013) contains a number of measures related to the promotion of traditional uses of nature (the most important is restoration and maintenance of natural/seminatural habitats). Finally, EIA and SEA legislation is in place, along with plans and programs, and includes mandatory assessment of the planned economic activity on biodiversity.
Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)
Although capacity-building and cooperation are not well-developed in Lithuania, some successful projects have already been launched that bring together various public bodies (e.g. an NGO-led project to protect and restore and manage 505 ha of threatened coastal habitat, involved for the first time in Lithuania, four municipalities, states’ institutions, a research institution and NGOs).
In addition, there are a number of nation-level, cross-sectoral planning documents that endorse sectoral mainstreaming of biodiversity protection. The Master Plan of the Republic of Lithuania, for example, recommends integration of landscape and biodiversity protection into strategies, programs and action plans of all sectors of the economy, and implementation of the requirements and recommendations of international conventions and EU directives on landscape and biodiversity protection. Mainstreaming activities have notably been achieved for the following sectors: agriculture (e.g. Agri-environment Payment Measure, Organic Farming Scheme, Rare Breeds Scheme, Support for Natura 2000 territories), fisheries (e.g. restrictions in fishing net sizes and seasonal use are in place to mitigate accidental sea bird mortality), forestry (e.g. National Programme for Forestry Development (2012-2020), 51 land use plans for afforestation transport, forest agri-environmental payments, forest certification, Forest Law of the Republic of Lithuania), tourism (e.g. preparation of protected natural territories for visitors), education (e.g. National Education Strategy for 2003-2012), energy, climate change and EIA.
The domestic budget for nature conservation produces a small percentage of the national budget and, despite EU financial support, funds should be increased.
Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation
The Law on Environmental Monitoring of the Republic of Lithuania is the main national act establishing an environmental monitoring system in Lithuania, and the State Environmental Monitoring Programme comprehensively describes all measures of state environmental monitoring according to components of the environment observed. The government-approved State Environmental Monitoring Programme (2011–2017) currently in operation also includes a part on nature monitoring which relates to the monitoring of all species/habitats of EU concern and to forest, fish, regulated game and invasive species.
The monitoring of species of EU concern should be conducted within a period of 1 to 6 years and carried out not only in protected areas (for some species, 25% of monitoring should be implemented outside protected areas). Examples of milestones achieved include the organization of the Baltic Sea, Curonian Lagoon and coastal zone biological monitoring program; monitoring programs on water bodies with studies of river biota and rare species; and participation in the international (HELCOM) monitoring programme and in other international projects of HELCOM, ICES, BOOS, EUROGOOS, BEEP EDIOS, BEWERS, PAPA, SEA-SEARCH.