NATURA2000-LOGO NATURA2000-LOGO Twinning Project TR02-EN-01
Capacity Building in the Field of Environment for Turkey (2004)
Component 3: Nature
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Basic Information on NATURA 2000

provided in 2004 by Assoc. Prof. Dr. H. Kehl / formerly Inst. of Ecology / Berlin TU,
Email: harald.kehl(et)
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Information sources: 
 [last online access: 09.10.2019]
Key definition
  provided in 2004 by the European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity (ETC BD)  

NATURA 2000 is the EU ecological network of sites designated by Member States under the

    • # Birds Directive (EEC/79/409 directive)
      signed in 1979 (Special Protection Areas = SPAs) and under the
    • # Habitats Directive (EEC/92/43 Directive)
      signed in 1992 (Special Areas of Conservation = SACs, according to EEC/92/43, Flora Fauna Habitat directive / FFH directive).
  • REMARK: On 21 May 1992 the Council adopted Directive EEC/92/43 concerning the protection of natural and semi-natural habitats and wild fauna and flora. It does not replace but complements the Directive on Wild Birds, and, in addition to this Directive's Special Protection Areas, it provides for Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) extended to other groups of species and types of habitats.

    Therefore: Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) form together the NATURA 2000 network.
    • Besides the above mentioned Directives, three international legal instruments (Conventions) play an important role for the protection of nature in the EU, and interrelate to the NATURA 2000 network. And most (or all) Member States of the European Union are parties to these different conventions.

      - The Ramsar Convention (Convention on Wetlands of International Importance)
      - The Bonn Convention (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals)
      - The Bern Convention (Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats).
The following information on the NATURA 2000 network, background and aims, was adopted from the NATURA 2000 website of Lithuania, Projekto adresas: Jakšto 4/9 LT-01105, Vilnius;tel.: 8-5 261 13 73, faks.: 8-5 261 13 61, el.paštas: (and was modified by the author, last online access: 31.10.04)  
"What is NATURA 2000?  
  NATURA 2000 is a network of protected areas in the European Union covering fragile and valuable natural habitats and species of particular importance for the conservation of biological diversity within the territory of EU.

Intensification of agriculture as well as infrastructural development, fragmentation of natural areas and pollution are among the most important and well-known threats to natural habitats throughout Europe, leading to a decrease in the local population sizes of many species. This process started more than 100 years ago and is still continuing.

Populations of species that used to occur abundantly are decreasing to low levels, and some species - such as the Slender-billed Curlew and the Sturgeon - are even threatened with extinction. Among 10 000 plant species found within the territory of EU, 3 000 are endangered and 27 species are threatened with extinction. The main objective of the NATURA 2000 network is to ensure the survival of species that are threatened or rare throughout Europe.

Two main EU directives related to nature protection - the so-called Birds Directive and Habitats Directive - form the legal basis for NATURA 2000.

These legal EU documents ensure the protection of certain natural habitats, flora and fauna, as well as the creation of the above-mentioned European network of protected territories. By means of the provisions of the Birds and Habitats directives, the EU nature protection policy thus aims to ensure effective protection of the unique biological diversity in Europe. All EU member states share these legal obligations to protect territories included into the NATURA 2000 network.

How does the selection of territories for the Natura 2000 network take place?  
The creation of the NATURA 2000 network is a very important and difficult task. In order to carry out this work successfully, the Member States and the Candidate Countries have to pass the following three stages in dialogue with the European Commission:

1. Preparation of national lists of candidate Natura 2000 areas

Habitats and species considered as endangered or rare at the European or global level are included into the annexes of the Habitats Directive, except for birds which are covered by the Birds Directive. However, the level of knowledge about their distribution and conservation status varies among the Member States and is often seen to be insufficient as basis for the selection of appropriate sites. Therefore, it is often necessary to carry out a scientific evaluation of each habitat or species at the national scale as a first step in establishing the Natura 2000 network. On the basis of this evaluation, the most important territories may be identified and entered into a national list of potential Sites of Community Interest (pSCIs) for further submission to the European Commission.

Territories are selected according to a number of explicit criteria, including for example the conservation status of the site, the importance of the site at national level for the conservation of species and habitats mentioned by the Directive, or the population size and density ospecies included in the Directives and occurring in the sites.

2. Identification of Sites of Community Interest (SCIs)

In the second stage, member states discuss the preliminary national list of candidate sites at biogeographical seminars organized by the Nature Topic Centre of the European Environment Agency, in order to finally identify Sites of Community Interest (SCIs) to be included into the NATURA 2000 network. The European Commission executes the selection in cooperation with the Member States or Candidate Countries. Each territory proposed on the national list is evaluated according to a number of criteria such as the occurrence of priority species and habitats, the relative value of the site at natinal level for the protection of habitats and species mentioned by the Directives, the importance of the sites as migration routes and their geographical location in relation to important natural areas in neighbouring countries. After discussions between the member state and the EU, new sites may be added to the list while other sites may be deleted. In case of dispute between the member state and the EU, the Council of Ministers of the European Union makes the final decision.

3. Nomination of Special Areas Of Conservation (SACs)

When a territory has been designated an SCI, the Member State is obliged to designate it a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) within the following six years. Once this designation has taken place, the member state assumes full responsibility for active compliance with the obligation to maintain a favourable conservation status for the species and habitats for which the sites have been designated. Member States are thus allowed a maximum of six years for the establishment and ajustment of measures and administrative procedures necessary for the protection, monitoring and management of the NATURA 2000 territories.

The special case of the Birds Directive

The designation of Special Protected Areas (SPAs) is anticipated in the Birds Directive. SPAs are nominated mainly for the protection of the most rare and endangered bird species at the European level, including migratory bird species. The Special Protected Areas (SPAs) are designated during one stage and are directly included into the NATURA 2000 network.

Which restrictions will be applied when the Natura 2000 network is put into practice?  
  NATURA 2000 protection for the selected territory means that each Member State is obliged to ensure a favourable conservation status for relevant habitats and species listed in the annexes of the Birds and Habitats Directives. Therefore, the specific management requirements and necessary restrictions on activities carried out within and around sites will vary from site to site, since the peculiarities of habitats or species and their conservation status in each case will have to be taken into account.

In principle, the Directives allow any activity in the NATURA 2000 territories which does no harm to the specific values of nature covered by the Directives. Sometimes all practical activities carried out in a protected territory may continue without any further restrictions, and it may even be possible to carry out additional activities in the protected territory. The decision to allow new activities in NATURA 2000 site, which are not directly related to the conservation of species and habitats, will only be taken after thorough considerations and, if appropriate, impact assessments and public participation. In some cases, activities formerly carried out in the protected areas may have to become restricted or even completely forbidden. The Directives further imply that in some cases, on-going or planned activities outside the NATURA 2000 areas will have to be adjusted, if they are seen as a risk to the values protected in NATURA 2000 areas. This may especially be the case in the areas surrounding NATURA 2000 sites.

Beyond the borders of "Natura 2000"…  
  The establishment of the NATURA 2000 network of protected territories and corresponding biological corridors joining these areas shows the commitment of the European Union with respect to international obligations concerning nature conservation. The Habitats and Birds directives constitute the main contribution of the European Community to protect biological diversity according to the regulations of the Convention on Biodiversity (Rio de Janeiro 1992) and the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention 1979).

The Habitats and Birds directives correspond to the general principles of other international conventions [as mentioned above], ..... and specifical regional conventions, as such, Baltic Sea Marine Environment Protection Convention (Helsinki Convention 1974), Barcelona or Mediterranean Convention (1976), as well as Convention on Alpine Protection (1991). The Natura 2000 network of protected areas thus forms part of the wider nature conservation strategy implemented by the European Union."

Basic Information on data collection, management and analysis
Interpretation manual of European Union habitats,
    Eur 25, April 2003 (129pp.) 0,72MB
Managing NATURA 2000 sites, The provisions of
  article 6 of the habitats directive 92/43/EEC (73 pp.) 0,79MB
NATURA 2000 standard data form (EU 15 version)
  Data Form & Explanatory notes (156 pp.) 6,53MB
  NATURA 2000 reference list of habitat types and species
      present in the Mediterranean region (15 pp.) 0,14MB
Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) (58pp.) 0,20MB
  The code corresponds to the NATURA 2000 code
  Habitats Directive, Annex I 0,13MB
  Habitats Directive, Annex II 0,17MB
  Habitats Directive, Annex III (2 pp.) 0,05MB
  Habitats Directive, Annex IV (19 pp.) 0,12MB
  Habitats Directive, Annex V (9 pp.) 0,10MB

Copyright © Dr. Harald Kehl
Alumnus of TU-Berlin - Institute of Ecology

Last updated on 2020-11-08