Stretching over 18 % of the EU’s land area and almost 6 % of its marine territory, it is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. It offers a haven to Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats.
Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right. It stretches across all 28 EU countries, both on land and at sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.
Natura 2000 is not a system of strict nature reserves from which all human activities would be excluded. While it includes strictly protected nature reserves, most of the land remains privately owned. The approach to conservation and sustainable use of the Natura 2000 areas is much wider, largely centered on people working with nature rather than against it. However, Member States must ensure that the sites are managed in a sustainable manner, both ecologically and economically.
On our pages, you will find more information about how the network was established, where the Natura 2000 sites are located, how they are managed and how Member States can better protect nature by working together across Europe. The European Commission's biogeographical process provides a co-operation platform to stakeholders and managers of the Natura 2000 network. You can also read our guidance documents on the Natura 2000 network management, access its Communication Platform and find out about the Natura 2000 awards.
Find out how the network was established and how Natura 2000 sites are selected
Discover the 9 biogeographical regions and how Member States work together. Access seminar documents or the lists of sites of Community importance
Get guidance on issues ranging from the directives to financing, wilderness and marine areas or climate change. Learn best practices.
Access our maps and statistics or find out if there's a Natura 2000 site by you.
Natura 2000 - Protecting Europe’s biodiversity (292 pgs)
Date of publication: 2008