As part of the "EU Action plan for nature, people and the economy", the European Commission has published an updated guidance for Member States authorities, stakeholders and EU citizens on how to conserve and manage Natura 2000 network of protected areas.
The guidance explains in a clear and accessible manner the provisions of Article 6 of the Habitats Directive. This is one of the most important articles for the overall implementation of the EU Nature directives (Birds and Habitats directives), as it defines how Natura 2000 sites are managed and protected. The guidance is intended primarily for Member State competent authorities, but also for anybody involved in the management of Natura 2000 sites and in the permit procedures for plans and projects, including developers, scientific experts and consultants, Natura 2000 site managers, non-governmental organisations and EU citizens.
Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said:
“With today’s updated guidance document we’re helping to ensure that EU nature laws deliver for nature, people and the economy. The sound management of the Natura 2000 sites is essential for the maintenance and enhancement of our European biodiversity, ecosystems and the services they provide on which some 4.4 million jobs in the EU are directly dependent. We have put in place the rules for ensuring such management, but in order for them to work, they have to be clear, up to date and understandable for everybody. I trust that this document will be of great use for everybody involved in the management of Natura 2000 sites, helping to better reconcile nature protection with different economic activities for the broader benefit of society."
The primary aim of this revision was to incorporate relevant rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU issued since the initial publication of the guidance in 2000, as well as to integrate in a single coherent document other relevant Commission notes and guidance documents. It provides clarifications of key concepts to Member State authorities and stakeholders. This will help them perform their duties efficiently, for example when designing appropriate measures for the active conservation of habitats and species or for preventing their deterioration, or when carrying out assessments of potentially damaging activities and making the necessary decisions.
Following a thorough evaluation of the EU's nature protection laws, in April 2017 the European Commission adopted an action plan to improve their implementation and boost their contribution towards reaching the EU's biodiversity targets for 2020. EU Action plan for nature, people and the economy proposed 15 sets of concrete actions to be carried out between 2017 and 2019.
Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of the EU’s nature and biodiversity policy. Established under the EU’s Birds Directive and Habitats Directive, it is an EU-wide network of over 27 500 terrestrial and marine sites, covering more than 18 % of land area and 9% of the surrounding seas.
The aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats. Well-functioning ecosystems provide benefits for human health, society and the economy. Natura 2000 provides an array of environmental advantages, while also serving a number of vital social and economic functions. In the EU, around 4.4 million jobs are directly dependent on healthy ecosystems, and a significant proportion of these are situated within Natura 2000 sites. In addition, the financial benefits that flow from the network itself are estimated to be in the range of EUR 200 to EUR 300 billion per year.
For More Information
The action plan is available here.
The detailed factsheets providing more information on the 15 sets of actions are available here.
Commission guidance on Natura 2000 management is available here.
21 November 2018