Loss of biodiversity, vulnerable natural, landscape and cultural heritage
(23) Natural and cultural heritage are parts of territorial capital and identity. Ecological values, environmental quality and cultural assets are crucial to well-being and to economic prospects and offer unique development opportunities. Overexploitation of these resources to provide for increasing demand, as well as industrial hazards can cause serious damage and may threaten territorial development. Urbanisation, intensification of agriculture and fisheries, transport and other types of infrastructure development, particularly where they take place in a territorially uncoordinated manner, can cause severe environmental problems. Increased and uncoordinated exploitation of maritime space and marine resources may have consequences for sustainable territorial development. Changes in land- and sea use, urbanisation and mass tourism threaten cultural assets and landscapes and may lead to fragmentation of natural habitats and ecological corridors. In historic and cultural environments, as well as in areas for new development or constructions, attention paid to the character of the place can improve the coherence and quality of the built environment.
Rural, peripheral and sparsely populated territories may need to enhance their accessibility, foster entrepreneurship and build strong local capacities. Some rural areas tend to be vulnerable territories rich in cultural and natural values. We support the safeguarding and sustainable utilization of this territorial capital, the ecological functions and services it provides.
6. Managing and connecting ecological, landscape and cultural values of regions
(37) We underline that well-functioning ecological systems and the protection and enhancement of cultural and natural heritage are important conditions for long-term sustainable development. We are all responsible for ensuring they are well functioning, protected and enhanced. Joint risk management is particularly important, taking into consideration different geographical specificities. We support the integration of ecological systems and areas protected for their natural values into green infrastructure networks at all levels.
(38) The high value of European urban and rural landscapes should be protected and developed in qualitative terms. Areas rich in natural and cultural landscapes may need special attention in order to make best use of these assets. Environmentally friendly job creation and strengthened recreational functions can complement conservation. The local, regional and trans-regional management of cultural and natural heritage is of key importance. We support the protection, rehabilitation and utilization of heritage through a place-based approach. Improving regional and local identity by strengthening awareness and responsibility of local and regional communities towards their environments, landscapes, cultures and other unique values is also important.