- Natura 2000
Natura 2000 Type Ecological network Area served European Union Motto "Natura 2000 - Europe's nature for you." Website http://www.natura.org
In May 1992, the governments of the European Communities adopted legislation designed to protect the most seriously threatened habitats and species across Europe. This legislation is called the Habitats Directive and complements the Birds Directive adopted in 1979. These two directives are the basis of the creation of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.
The construction of Natura 2000
The Birds Directive requires the establishment of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for birds. The Habitats Directive similarly requires Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to be designated for species other than birds, and for habitats. Together, SPAs and SACs make up the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.
Furthermore, the Natura 2000 network is the EU contribution to the "Emerald network" of Areas of Special Conservation Interest (ASCIs) set up under the Bern Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats. Natura 2000 is also a key contribution to the Program of Work of Protected Areas of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The SPAs are designated directly by each EU Member State, while the SACs follow a more elaborated process: each EU Member State must compile a list of the best wildlife areas containing the habitats and species listed in the Habitats Directive; this list must then be submitted to the European Commission, after which an evaluation and selection process on European level will take place in order to become a Natura 2000 site.
Current status of the Natura 2000 network of Protected Areas
Natura 2000 protects around 18% of land in the 27 EU countries, and it can be considered almost completed in the EU terrestrial environment. In any case, there are still some issues which should be solved, but in general the process to construct Natura 2000 has been very positive. During the process, the European Commission has warned several EU member states over non-compliance with the EU nature directives (Habitats and Birds Directives), in particular in relation with the insufficiency of the Natura 2000 network, e.g. the European Commission started an "infringement procedure" against Poland in April 2006.
Natura 2000 is currently being also enlarged in the marine off-shore environment. The process is currently ongoing, and is expected to be close to completion by 2012.
In respect to wilderness and wild land areas, the European Commission is currently developing guidelines on the relation between Natura 2000 and these areas. Members of the European Parliament in the plenary session of February 3, 2009 backed a report calling for further protection of Europe's wilderness. "The report also calls for more European funding to protect existing sites and "re-wild" ones that are currently being used by humans or agriculture. At present 13% of the forest zone of the 27-member EU is designated as Natura 2000 sites under the existing Birds and Habitats directive."
Sign identifying a Natura 2000 listed site in Belgium.
The Foloi oak forest in Greece is a Natura 2000 protected area.
Natura 2000 locality in Slovakia.
- ^ BBC News. 2006. "EU warns Poland over environment." 11 August 2006. Downloaded on 12 August 2006 from news.bbc.co.uk
- ^ MEPs Respond to Call to Protect Europe last retrieved 04-02-09
- Natura 2000 Viewer - interactive map (European Environment Agency)
- Natura 2000 data download - the European network of protected sites (European Environment Agency)
- Natura 2000 - the Natura Network Initiative - Natura 2000 at work
- European Commission, DG Environment, Nature and Biodiversity unit
- Natura 2000 newsletter (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian)
- A-Z Areas of Biodiversity Importance: Natura 2000
- European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity
- Natura 2000 Network
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