The European Network of Environmental Law Organizations, Justice and Environment, held its Annual General Meeting in Bratislava on 14-17 March, 2016. The forum aimed at sharing know-how and views between EU and non-EU NGOs on nature conservation and biodiversity protection, as well as at enhancing future cooperation within this field.  Participants  from non-EU countries were able to  gain knowledge  on how EU countries regulate and implement these issues. This  could help their accession process,  which is still underway. The third meeting day member organisations of J&E and environmental NGOs from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Serbia held  discussions on nature conservation
In considering specific biodiversity values for their countries, all NGOs mentioned canyons and gorges of rivers as well as high mountain areas, national and nature parks. Other high-valued areas for the ecosystem biodiversity have been identified in special nature reserves as well as wetlands and forests in the Danube Region. An area of significant importance for Bulgaria is the Black Sea, the largest bird migration route in Europe, while in Serbia there are important regional and local biodiversity centres protected by UNESCO, which are paying special attention to migratory birds.
As to the largest threats to biodiversity, the problems identifies  identified in the mentioned countries are quite similar: hydropower plants and canalisation are destroying rivers, thus threatening the survival and migration of protected species.  Serbia is facing phenomena such as air and water pollution due to bad waste management, thus leading to a  loss of biodiversity.  Bulgaria is facing more challenges: the urbanisation in the Black Sea area and new ski resorts in the mountain areas, the cutting of old-growth forests, transport projects and wind and nuclear power generators, as well as the destruction of meadows for EU subsidies are endangering the environment.  Ukraine on an institutional perspective is facing gaps in its legislation system and corruption within the local institutions threatening the action of NGOs.
According to the NGO members, several problems ought to be solved in order  to be more active in biodiversity protection such as the lack of environmental education which could  be overcome by developing comparative studies, analysis and common projects.  According to the Serbian association, what is missing is the monitoring of the legislation itself.
NGOs stated that international awareness and support on these topics, as well as harmonisation of the legislation of non-EU members, in accordance with EU regulations, were vital points for contributing to biodiversity protection.  In fact, some countries are still facing problems in transposing the European Union legislation on biodiversity protection. In Bulgaria, EU legislation on biodiversity has been fully transposed, while in Bosnia and Herzegovina laws have only been partly harmonised with the EU and some conventions are not properly implemented. In Serbia the Accession Treaty does not include provisions on biodiversity even though the country is signatory of all Biodiversity Conventions and in Ukraine the EU directives  in the area of environment protection have not been implemented at all, causing a high legislation gap.
The event was co-funded by the CEI Cooperation Fund.