Natura 2000

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Natura 2000
Natura 2000 logo.png
Founded 1992
Type Network of nature protection areas
Area served European Union

Natura 2000 is a network of nature protection areas in the territory of the European Union. It comprises various types of protected areas, mainly Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs), but it also includes Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and some special forms defined on a national basis.


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 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 major part of 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. As prerequisite for becoming EU Member, countries such as Romania were assigned to submit proposals for its protected natural sites as part of Natura 2000 ecological network.[1]

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[edit]

Natura 2000 protects around 18% of land in the EU countries, and it can be considered almost completed in the EU terrestrial environment. There are still some issues which should be solved, but in general the process to construct Natura 2000 has been very positive.[clarification needed] During the process, the European Commission has warned several EU member states over non-compliance with the EU nature directives (Habitats and Birds Directive), 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.[2]

Natura 2000 is currently[when?] being also enlarged in the marine off-shore environment. The process was expected to be close to completion by 2012.

In respect to wilderness and wild land areas, the European Commission is currently[when?] developing guidelines on the relation between Natura 2000 and these areas. Members of the European Parliament in the plenary session of 3 February 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 EU is designated as Natura 2000 sites under the existing Birds and Habitats directive."[3]

Natura 2000 day[edit]

Nevertheless, Natura 2000 network is not well known among European citizens; only 11% European knew what it was in 2013.[4] SEO/BirdLife started a LIFE+ project in order to improve the knowledge of this network.[5]

In 2013, the first Natura 2000 day took place in order to encourage the awareness of citizens about the importance of Natura 2000 network in their lives. Since then, every May 21 and the weeks before, awareness actions take place all over Europe.[6]


  1. ^ Peter Abran (Jan 2012). "Forest management in the Natura 2000 ecological network in Romania – present problems and perspectives". Rev. pădur. (in Romanian) 127 (1): 21–27. ISSN 1583-7890. 16782. Retrieved 2012-05-08.  (webpage has a translation button)
  2. ^ "EU warns Poland over environment". BBC News. 11 August 2006. Retrieved 12 August 2006. 
  3. ^ MEPs Respond to Call to Protect Europe last retrieved 04-02-09
  4. ^ Attitudes towards Biodiversity. Flash Eurobarometer 379
  5. ^ Proyecto Activa Red Natura 2000
  6. ^ Natura 2000 day

External links[edit]