EU Nature Protection Legislation – Focus on Species Protection




Overview of EU Nature Protection Regime


Briefly, the Habitats Directive consists generally of two sets of rules:

  • section on the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs);
  • section on species protection,
whereas the Birds Directive has a similar structure, except here designated areas are called Special Protection Areas (SPAs). All designated SPAs and SACs form a coherent ecological network throughout Europe, called Natura 2000. The main goal of Natura 2000 is to link different areas throughout Europe in order to combat habitat fragmentation, which is regarded as a major cause of the extinction of species.

Natura 2000
Source: Joseph van der Stegen, DG Environment, European Commission

Natura 2000 not only applies to the Birds and Habitats Directives, but also to the marine environment. Click here for more information! Further, it fulfills one of the Communities’ obligations under the United Nation Convention on Biological Diversity. These Directives have certainly been a catalyst for increased funding for nature, improved stakeholder awareness and engagement, as well as strengthened knowledge and sharing of experience. However, this has not taken place on sufficient scale.