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Natura 2000 network

At the heart of the Birds and the Habitats Directives lies the creation of the Natura 2000 network - a Europe-wide ecological network of nature conservation areas. All 28 Member States have designated Natura 2000 sites to help conserve the rare habitats and species present in their territory.

Over 27,000 sites have been included in the network so far. In total, they cover a substantial area: almost a fifth of Europe’s land area and an important part of the surrounding seas. This makes it the largest coordinated network of conservation areas anywhere in the world.

Although the network includes strictly protected nature reserves, Natura 2000 embraces a much wider approach to conservation and sustainable use of protected areas, largely centred on people working with nature, rather than against it. Since every site is unique, the emphasis is very much on finding local solutions to local management issues in close cooperation with landowners, stakeholders, and any other interested parties. The Habitats and Birds Directives introduce a modern, flexible and inclusive approach to site conservation that recognises that humans are an integral part of nature and that the two work best in partnership with one another. In this way, everyone has a role to play in making Natura 2000 a success be they public authorities, private landowners and users, developers, conservation NGOs, scientific experts, local communities or individual members of the public.

For more information, visit the Natura 2000 website.