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Biodiversity – the variety of Life on Earth – makes our planet habitable and beautiful. We depend on it for the food, energy, raw materials, air and water that make life possible and drive our economy. And we look to the natural environment for equally important things like aesthetic pleasure, artistic inspiration and recreation.
The EU is committed to the protection of biodiversity, and to halting biodiversity loss within the EU by 2020.
Over the last 25 years the EU has built up a vast network of 26.000 protected areas in all the Member States and an area of more than 750.000 km2, which is 18% of the EU’s land area. Known as Natura 2000, it is the largest network of protected areas in the world, and a testament to the importance that EU citizens attach to biodiversity.
The legal basis for Natura 2000 comes from the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive, which form the backbone of the EU's internal biodiversity policy. But protected natural areas cannot thrive in isolation: if we want to conserve Europe's natural capital, then agriculture, energy and transport policies must be sustainable too.
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