Habitats Directive

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The Habitats Directive (more formally known as Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora) is a European Union directive adopted in 1992 as an EU response to the Berne Convention. It is one of the EU's two directives in relation to wildlife and nature conservation, the other being the Birds Directive.[1][2]

It aims to protect some 220 habitats and approximately 1,000 species listed in the directive's Annexes. These are species and habitats which are considered to be of European interest, following criteria given in the directive.[3][4]

  • Annex I covers habitats,
  • Annex II species requiring designation of Special Areas of Conservation,
  • Annex IV species in need of strict protection, and
  • Annex V species whose taking from the wild can be restricted by European law.

The directive led to the setting up of a network of Special Areas of Conservation, which together with the existing Special Protection Areas form a network of protected sites across the European Union called Natura 2000.[1][2] Article 17 of the directive requires EU Member States to report on the state of their protected areas every six years. The first complete set of country data was reported in 2007.

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