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How Much Biodiversity is in Natura 2000


The ultimate goal of the Habitats and Birds Directives is to ensure the long-term sustainability of around 230 habitats and 2,000 species of animals and plants that are naturally occurring in the EU. But how much of a contribution do the two Nature Directives make to the conservation of Europe’s biodiversity as a whole? In order to answer this question, the Commission in 2013 initiated a research project to assess the significance of the presumed ‘umbrella effect’ of the Natura 2000 network.

The research sought to shed light on the following aspects in particular:

  • Amongst the species regularly occurring within the EU-28 Member States (common species), which ones significantly benefit from Natura 2000-related site conservation requirements under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives?
  • What is the share of EU species significantly benefitting from Natura 2000, for instance in terms of percentage of all species occurring in the wild in the EU?
  • How significant is this contribution of Natura 2000 in relation to the objective of halting and reversing biodiversity loss in Europe, as foreseen in the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy?
  • The study used existing data for terrestrial plant, mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and butterfly species and based the analysis mostly on processing GIS species distribution data in relation to their presence within the Natura 2000 network. As certain groups are better recorded and some countries are better investigated than others, a bias correction technique had to be applied to the methodology developed.

The results of the study are available here:



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