Project Details

Title: Sustainable Use of Regional Funds for Nature
Priority: 2: Environment and risk prevention
Theme: Biodiversity and preservation of natural heritage (including air quality)

Type of intervention

Type of intervention: 1: Regional Initiative Project
Mini-programme: No
Duration: 1st Jan 2010 - 28th Feb 2013


Total budget: €1,584,766.00
ERDF contribution: €1,246,105.60

Lead partner

Federal Environment Agency Austria
Spittelauer Lände 5
1090, Wien

  • Click for contact details
    • Contact Person: Maria Tiefenbach
      Phone: 43-(0)1-313 04 - 3350
      Fax: 43-(0)1-313 04 - 3700

Project summary

The Sustainable Use of Regional Funds for Nature (SURF – Nature) project is a partnership of 14 authorities and public bodies (or bodies under public law) working together to optimise regional policies and practices with regard to promotion and preservation of natural heritage, biodiversity, and nature conservation through improving opportunities for and the impacts of financing these measures from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). For the first time in the history of the ERDF, the current regulation specifically refers to the option for financing natural heritage, biodiversity and nature conservation (including NATURA 2000). This is consistent with an EC decision that investments in the Natura 2000 network of protected sites should be integrated into existing EC funds. As a result, nearly €4 billion in EU co-financing is available across the Member States for nature protection.

To best take advantage of the funds available, managing authorities and entities responsible for nature conservation need to improve their awareness of the availability of funding, and their capacity to identify, develop, and implement the necessary investment projects. In addition, authorities need to see the concrete benefits of using the funds for nature protection, and understand how to integrate these benefits into overall development planning for future funding cycles. Despite diversity across Europe, regions face similar issues when they seek financing for nature protection and promotion, particularly in the context of EU-funded programmes. Cooperation between regions and other relevant partners therefore has tremendous potential to transfer good practices, and to stimulate the development of mutually beneficial new ideas and methods.

To tackle these issues, the SURF-Nature partnership will carry out a series of activities aimed at the identification, analysis and dissemination of experience and good practice with using ERDF funds for nature conservation. Partners will analyse existing ERDF funding programmes (OPs) to identify how nature conservation is integrated into the process. A data base of 60 good practice investment projects will be created. The partnership will conduct a series of interregional workshops on specific funding themes and a series of training sessions within partner regions. Based on the results, partners will produce guidance documents covering specific funding themes, investment project development, and the next generation of funding programmes. Project outputs and results will be disseminated through the project website, quarterly newsletters, contacts with other initiatives, and two European conferences.

Project achievements

SURF nature is a project funded through the Interreg IVc programme within the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union (ERDF). By end of Jan 2010 the project received its final approval and run until February 2013. The overall objective of the project was to enhance regional policies for promotion and preservation of biodiversity and nature through improving opportunities for and the impacts of financing these measures from the ERDF. For that reason different local, regional and national authorities came together and built up a partnership of 14 partners from 10 different European countries. The partnership was lead by the Environment Agency Austria, the coordination was in the hand of WWF Germany.The website provides lots of details about project and partners and offers results from the project activities. Furthermore a project flyer has been produced and is available in 12 languages.One big milestone was the analysis of Operational (OPs) Programmes

of ERDF funding in 2010. Based on a standardized analysis guideline (matrix), all partners analyzed 46 OPs in total, reviewing the ERDF objectives of “Convergence”, “Regional Competitiveness + Employment” and “Territorial Cooperation” in order to identify measures and funding for nature conservation and biodiversity. The overall analysis shows that nearly all OPs recognize the importance of biodiversity in the planning documents. However difficulties occur during implementation. Most competiveness programmes don`t include the category of expenditure 51 which is linked to biodiversity whereas the sectoral environmental OPs under convergence as well as the majority of programmes under territorial cooperation objective have clear allocations for this category. In terms of absorption only the transnational and cross border OPs show positive developments with over 30% of funds used under code 51 in 7 out of 10 analysed programmes. Thematic booklets deepen expertise from the analysis on five

key biodiversity related funding themes "green infrastructure", "sustainable tourism",, "environmental education", "forest biodiversty" and "natura 2000 management". All five booklets have been also translated into other partner languages, printed and published on the SURF website. 51 good practice examples from all five funding themes have benn collected and published on an online database. The promotion of the projects started with the launch conference in June 2010 hosted by the partner from Poland. The 3 day event was held back to back with the ENCORE network of the regions and its 9th Environmental Conference of the regions of Europe.The conference had its focus on the presentation of SURF-Nature and its content in order to raise awareness on opportunities of ERDF funding for nature conservation. A series of 9 interregional workshops in partner regions has been successfully completed. During interregional workshops partners and stakeholders from the regions had the opportunity

to discuss and exchange on ERDF funding for the five funding themes. In field visits partners learned more about the regional approaches and good practice. Recommendations for the funding period 2014-2020 adressed to ERDF managers and regulators as well as project success criteria have been developed and disseminated to stakeholders. A handbook on financing biodiversity and guidance on Assessing Socio-Economic Benefits for better access to Structural Funds for biodiversity have been produced. Press releases and articles have been disseminated and 12 newsletter have been published. Further preparation for improvements in regional approaches are underway with support of 12 training sessions that have been organized in nearly each partner region.To involve European regions and promote the project the partners realized two special dissemination events and participated in a high amount of external events. Last but not least all partners agreed on a final SURF message with recommendations.


Institution, Town Country Region Contact details
Federal Environment Agency Austria, Wien AUSTRIA Wien 43-(0)1-313 04 - 3350
Giurgiu County Council, Giurgiu ROMANIA Sud - Muntenia 0040 372 46 26 11
Office of the Marshal of the Warmińsko - Mazurskie Voivodeship, Olsztyn POLAND Warminsko-Mazurskie 48 89 527 06 54
Province of Rieti, Rieti ITALY Lazio 0039 0746 286216
Municipal Enterprise for Planning and Development of Patras S.A., Patras GREECE Dytiki Ellada 003026 10361747
Prefecture of Preveza, Preveza GREECE Ipeiros 0030-2682360283/84
Regional Administration Sliven, Sliven BULGARIA Yugoiztochen 35944663202
Tsenovo municipality, Rousse district, Tsenovo BULGARIA Severen tsentralen 00359 8122 25 10
Direction General for Environment of the Region of Murcia, Murcia SPAIN Región de Murcia 0034 968 228893
Forest Sciences Technology Center of Catalonia, Solsona, Lleida SPAIN Cataluña 34 973 481 752
Environment Agency Wales, Cardiff UNITED KINGDOM East Wales 0044 29 20466126
Palacký University Olomouc, Olomouc CZECH REPUBLIC Stredni Morava 420 585 634 564
Austrian Federal Forests, Purkersdorf AUSTRIA Niederösterreich 43-2231-600-3140
Donau-Auen National Park, Orth an der Donau AUSTRIA Niederösterreich 0043 0 22 12345018
Côtes d'Armor General Council, Saint-Brieuc Cedex 1 FRANCE Bretagne +33 (0)2 96 62 63 84
Development agency Savinja, Žalec SLOVENIA Vzhodna Slovenija 386 3713 68 60


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