Natura 2000 is a network of protected areas across the European Union, with the aim of affording protection to habitats and species of wild fauna and flora of Community interest. Certain measures are to be implemented in order to ensure that the condition of the natural habitats and species populations which are of particular importance are maintained and/or restored in order to ensure their survival.
A site may be proposed as a Natura 2000 site when it supports natural habitat types and habitats of species of Community interest, which habitats and species are listed in the Annexes of the EC Habitats Directive. The natural habitats and species that are listed in the said Annexes include vulnerable, rare and endangered habitats and species. Once approved by the EC, each site is referred to as Site of Community Importance (SCI), which is then eventually designated as Special Area of Conservation (SAC). A Natura 2000 site can also be designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA), as called for under the EC Birds Directive, when the site is known to be particularly important for the conservation of wild bird species.
It is important to note that Natura 2000 is not a system of strict nature reserves where all human activities are excluded. The aim is to ensure that the management of such sites is sustainable, both ecologically and economically.
The Natura 2000 network throughout Europe comprises more than 25,000 sites, covering around 20% of the total land area (800,000km2) of the EU. The network also covers about 100,000km2 of the marine environment.
For further details on the network, reference is made to the European Commission webpage.
To get an overview of the location of the Natura 2000 sites across the EU, reference is made to the Natura 2000 viewer, which also includes site datasheets. The information within the datasheets can also be obtained from the Natura 2000 database.
Other sections related to Natura 2000
Natura 2000 in Malta
Natura 2000 Datasheets & Maps
Protected Areas - International
Links for further information
State of the Environment Reports (or Indicators)
Factsheet on Natura 2000
Natura 2000 - European Commission webpage
Sites of Community Importance
Special Protection Areas
Statistics (Natura 2000 barometer)
Details on the Mediterranean region
Natura 2000 in the Mediterranean region publication
Latest Mediterranean Commission Decision (including list of SCIs for Malta)
Natura 2000 in the marine environment
Natura 2000 newsletter
Interpretation Manual of EU habitats
Natura 2000 Standard Data Form & Explanatory Notes
Frequently asked questions
Natura 2000 viewer (including datasheets)
Natura 2000 database