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Management of Natura 2000 sites: Best Practice

The aim of the Natura 2000 Network is to protect vulnerable habitats and species across their natural range in Europe and ensure that they are restored to, or maintained at, a favourable conservation status.

Natura 2000 is however not merely a system of strict nature reserves where human activities are systematically excluded. It adopts a different approach - Natura 2000 fully recognises that man is an integral part of nature and the two work best in partnership with one another. Indeed, many sites in the Natura 2000 Network are valuable precisely because of the way they have been managed up to now.

The management of Natura 2000 sites is therefore best done by working closely with the landowners and stakeholder groups in or around individual Natura 2000 sites in order to agree on the most appropriate ways to conserve the species and habitats whilst respecting the local socio-economic and cultural context.

Over, the years, the Commission has been actively encouraging the exchange of experiences and good practices on the management of different types of Natura 2000 sites. The LIFE projects also provide a wealth of good practice experiences.

EU Habitat Action Plans

Under the Action Plan for nature, people and the economy, the European Commission, in cooperation with Member States and stakeholders, has committed to develop and promote the implementation of EU Action Plans for two of the most threatened EU habitat types protected under the EU Habitats Directive:

Action plan for the habitat type 4030 European dry heaths English Deutsch français español italiano polski română

Action plan for the habitat type 6210, semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (*important orchid sites) English Deutsch español français italiano polski română dansk malti latviešu valoda slovenščina lietuvių kalba eesti keel português ελληνικά hrvatski svenska suomi čeština slovenčina български Nederlands

Good practice examples of managing Natura 2000 sites

This mini website offers 25 examples of the successful management of Natura 2000 sites in the following sectors: Farming, Forestry, Rivers, Marine environment and Wetlands.

Dealing with conflicts in management of Natura 2000 – best practice at local/ site level

The Commission funded a contract to promote best practices for achieving an appropriate balance between potentially conflicting interests and uses of Natura 2000 sites. The tasks consisted of reviewing current practices in different Member States, writing up case studies to demonstrate good practice, and making recommendations on how best to deal with conflict management in the Natura 2000 Network. The following reports are available from the project:

Management models for protected habitat types

The European Commission funded a contract to develop management models for 25 habitat types listed under the Habitats Directive which are in need of active recurring management. These models are designed to help site managers prepare their own site-specific management plans.

Each of the 25 models provides a detailed overview of the distribution, ecological requirements, main trends and threats of the habitat type in question, together with a description of appropriate management prescriptions and techniques for their conservation. The findings are drawn from a comprehensive review of the best available information in different EU countries.

Species conservation through Rural Development Programmes

Financed by the European Commission, the Wildlife and Sustainable Farming Initiative (2007-2009) looked at how the conservation of certain species of wildlife protected under the Habitats and Birds Directives can be supported through the Rural Development Programmes (2007-2013).

The final report is in two parts: the first part looks at the opportunities offered by the CAP and RDP for wildlife conservation, particularly in relation to the provisions of the Habitats and Birds Directives. The second part contains a series of fact sheets for the 12 endangered animal species.

Each 8 page fact sheet provides key information about the species ecology, its threats and beneficial farming/forestry practices and highlights the dirrerent opportunities available for integrating the species conservation needs into the different measures of CAP (e.g. Pillar I and Pillar II) as illustrated by practical examples from different countries/regions.

Full report:

Individual Species fact sheets:

Semi-natural grasslands library

This pilot website aims to help site managers of Natura 2000 sites to find quickly and easily information on references to major documents on management of semi-natural grasslands ("electronic library"). The library does not provide management details itself, but provides information on the most relevant management documents at EU level and helps the user to find further information.

Natura 2000 Communication Platform

Initiated by the Commission, the Natura 2000 Good Practice Exchange is designed to provide a platform for networking and exchanging experience between actors from different sectors who are responsible for, or actively involved in, socio-economic activities or development projects in and around Natura 2000 sites.

This tool should allow stakeholders from different economic sectors to exchange information on solution finding for reconciling nature conservation objectives with economic development and on examples of good practice (integrated management of Natura 2000 sites). Four mini sites have been developed specifically for that purpose (on angling, tourism, forestry, coastal infrastructure)

Natura 2000 Networking Programme (2007)

The Natura 2000 Networking Programme (2007) was financed by the Commission to help improve information, communication and general understanding of the objectives of the Natura 2000 Network. It promoted partnership building at local level, raising awareness among the general public and stakeholders in order to encourage their participation in the planning and management process.

The Programme included the compilation of ‘good practice examples’ of site management and partnership development, and co-ordination of the organisation of "Natura Green Days" events in sites throughout the Natura 2000 Network.

For more information on the Programme,