PROJECT: Natura 2000

Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of EU nature & biodiversity policy. It is an EUwide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive. The aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats, ensuring a sustainable, both ecologically and economically, future management.


  • Due to human influence on nature, natural areas have been destroyed. Animals and plants in certain areas have become extinct.
  • The prospect of conserving untouched nature as a heritage for the next generation has decreased considerably. Every day in Germany, 120ha of nature or mainly agricultural land is lost to the construction of infrastructure and cities.
  • This has caused a crisis in Europe in the overproduction of agricultural products.
  • A system to combine protected areas, on a European scale, had not yet been established.


  • Assure long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.
  • The designation, implementation and management of sites that are particularly important for conserving and restoring EU biodiversity.
  • The strict protection of listed species as well as their breeding sites and resting places.
  • Enhance the functioning of ecosystems, which in turn delivers benefits to society and the economy.


  • Support of the EU member states.
  • The network is comprised of 26,400 sites and covers almost 18 % of the EU territory.
  • It includes terrestrial Sites of Community Importance (SCIs), with an area of 59 million ha, and terrestrial Special Protection Areas (SPAs) with an area of 52 million ha.
  • A growing Marine Protected Area (MPA) network – now at 21.7 million ha: 12 million ha classify as SPAs and 18 million ha as SCIs.


  • Natura 2000 protects sites and enforces conservation action. To finance this network, the European Union has set aside money under a fund called Life Nature, which is managed by the Environment Directorate of the European Commission.
  • The protected areas provide cultural services, for example, supporting recreation and tourism, maintaining cultural identity and highlighting the identity of a location.
  • Member States are responsible for ensuring that all Natura 2000 sites are appropriately managed by conservation authorities in each country. These organisations often work in partnership with other authorities, voluntary bodies, local or national charities and prvate landowners.


  • Protecting these areas play an important role in decreasing the vulnerability of communities, in natural disasters and reducing their physical exposure to natural risks, often providing them with livelihood resources to withstand and recover from crises.
  • Benefits of Natura 200 include the supply of tangible resources such as water and sustainably produced crops and timber.
  • It also includes the processes that regulate water and air quality, preventing natural hazards such as flooding and soil erosion and mitigates climate change through storing and sequestering carbon.


  • Natura 2000 recieved strong criticism in several member states.
  • Protected areas are known for their important role in mitigating the damaging impacts of natural disasters.
  • There was distrust and rejection of European policies by certain sectors, especially in areas ‘sensitive’ to nature conservation.
  • In France, there was many long debates before establishing the Natura 2000 network, demonstrating that it was not an ornament or land confiscation, but an opportunity to work together positively with sustainable development of natural areas for the benefit of the environment and the community.
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Project info




1979 - Present


Natura 2000 is an ecological network of protected areas, set up to ensure the survival of Europe’s most valuable species and habitats.


European Union


Natura 2000 protects around 18% of land in the EU countries, and it can be considered almost completed in the EU terrestrial environment. It is also being enlarged in the marine off-shore environment.




Euro. Agricultural Fund for Rural Dev. (EAFRD), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and LIFE Programme (EU)