Natura 2000

The European Natura 2000 Network

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:

  • 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

The EUROPARC Federation gathers amongst its members a significant number of the N2000 sites managers – at the local (sites and protected areas), regional (authorities, NGOs) and national (national agencies, ministries) levels. It is assumed that approximately 40% of the current N2000 network is managed by the EUROPARC members. N2000 undoubtedly underpins our strategy and is the focus of most of our activities, from the European strategies and policies to the ground and field management.

Thanks to the vast knowledge base in the EUROPARC network, we are in a position to contribute to the development and improvement of policies, to facilitate the connection between policy and practice and to offer support for managers. EUROPARC provides a platform for cooperation and learning exchange on N2000 management practices addressed to site managers, protected areas and managing authorities across the EU and its candidate countries.

Approximately 40% of the current N2000 network is managed by the EUROPARC members

Core Focus Areas

EUROPARC identified the following specific priorities on N2000 on which is currently working:

  • Learning exchange and capacity building for managers – organisation of thematic workshops and webinars, leading the LIFE (to support e-learning and open education for N2000 Managers 2018-2021), collection of case studies and good practices, sharing policy developments via our website, running the N2000 Commission, technical cooperation with the Sections.
  • Technical advisor  policy and advocacy work with EU institutions and partner organisations as a member of the European Habitats Forum and chair of the dedicated working group, member of the NADEG (EU expert Group on Birds and Habitats Directives) and N2000 management expert group of the EC; contribution to the EU N2000 Biogeographical Seminar process; general contribution for the implementation of EU Nature Directives, the EU Action Plan for Nature People and the Economy and the development of specific technical guidelines.
  • Communication and awareness raising  contribution to the EU N2000 Awards, wide dissemination of guidelines and information via the EUROPARC website, publications and social media.

EUROPARC members role in N2000 management

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.