With a growing awareness amongst the countries of the European Union a common legislation was needed to protect European natural heritage. The Habitats Directive was adopted in 1992 and combined with the earlier Birds Directive from 1979.
Together these so called Nature Directives create a network of sites designated by the individual countries, based on scientific criteria, to provide a network for effective nature protection across Europe:
Today, Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and Marine Protected Areas make us the Natura 2000 network.
Key Facts in a Nutshell
The purpose of each designated site, is to improve the conservation status, of the protected species or habitats:
- Countries are expected to monitor and report on this to the European Commission.
- Currently around 18% of land in the EU countries (787.767 km² in 2013) is protected as part of the N2000 network.
- These are on both publically managed and privately owned land.
- 251.564 km² had been designated as Natura 2000 in the marine environment in 2013. The network in marine areas needs particular attention as it is still incomplete and considered a “key challenge for EU biodiversity policy in the coming years”.
EUROPARC & Natura 2000
Much work and effort has gone into the identification and designation of vulnerable sites. Now the focus has moved towards the management, the improvement of condition and the awareness about these Protected Areas. In achieving this, EUROPARC members have a key role to play:
- EUROPARC Federation members in the Natura 2000 network have a great deal of experience to share with other managers of publicly and privately owned Natura 2000 sites.
- EUROPARC member Protected Areas have close contact with millions of Europeans who live, work and visit these areas. Thus, having an indispensable potential to raise awareness about the network and biodiversity in general throughout the wider public. That way supporting one relevant goal the EU Commission is committed to in the context of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy.
Where national, nature and regional parks may be very well known, according to the Eurobarometer 2013, only 11% of European citizens knew about the Natura 2000.