This map shows the network of marine Natura 2000 sites across Europe. Natura 2000 is based on the 1979 Birds Directive and the 1992 Habitats Directive which have designated Special Protection Areas (SPA’s) and areas of Special Conservation Interest (or Sites of Community Importance; SCI’s) to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats. Natura 2000 is supported in this through the LIFE programme, which is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action.
Natura 2000 is the world's largest coordinated network of protected areas. The EU wide Natura 2000 network stretches across all EU countries, both on land and at sea, covering 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 8% of its marine territory . On land, this represents a territory approximately the size of Spain and Romania together (> 700,000 km2), while at sea, the area is approximately as big as Sweden (> 500,000 km2). Thanks to Natura 2000, the EU protects around 1,400 species of wild animals and plants and 460 species of birds.
Did you know that 21 May is the European Natura 2000 day? This relates to the 21st of May 1992, when both the EU Habitats Directive and LIFE programme were approved. As such, the European Commission together with the European Parliament, the Council Presidency and the Committee of the Regions decided to make 21st of May a day to celebrate the Natura 2000 network and honor the efforts of everyone involved in making it a success. Therefore this year, 2022, marks the 30th anniversary of both the Natura 2000 network and the LIFE Programme year (2022). What an achievement!
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The data in this map are provided by EMODnet.