Press release

May 21, 2007


Happy birthday, Natura 2000!

(Brussels, 21 May, 2007) - Nature conservation organisations across Europe are today celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the Habitats Directive: the EU’s most important legal tool for conserving biodiversity. The key achievement of this Directive is the creation of a network of protected areas in Europe, known as ‘Natura 2000’. By now, over one-sixth of EU territory has been dedicated to Natura 2000. The Brussels-based networks of the European Habitats Forum (EHF) (the European coalition of nature protection organisations) see this as a major EU success story.

Natura 2000’s main aim is to ensure sustainable development goes hand-in-hand with nature and people. “Europe has a unique natural treasure from the Alpine peaks to romantic beaches in the Mediterranean and mystical forests in the Carpathians”, said Andreas Baumüller from WWF. “Natura 2000 helps safeguard this beauty, while helping to create sustainable jobs in rural areas.”

EHF members believe Natura 2000, often called “the backbone of Europe’s nature protection efforts”, is essential for meeting the goal of “halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010”, to which EU heads of government committed themselves in 2001. By now, most Member States have made good progress in establishing the Natura 2000 network (although the process of achieving site designation has been difficult). For example, Slovenia has allocated over one-third of its territory to Natura 2000, the highest proportion of land of all the EU countries. EHF members also welcome the existing opportunity of making EU funds available for implementing the Habitats Directive, and encourage national governments and the Commission to agree on providing sufficient resources to ensure the management of Natura 2000 sites.

However, EHF believes that certain other countries still fall far short of meeting their European responsibilities. “Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria are examples of countries which must now accelerate designation of their Natura 2000 sites”, said Konstantin Kreiser from BirdLife International. “It’s not just a legal obligation, it’s also essential if we’re to save European nature for our future generations. Endangered species, like the imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca), the brown bear (Ursus arctos) or the European bison (Bison bonasus) need places to survive, and we all need a diverse and healthy environment.”

EHF stresses the importance of quickly completing Natura 2000 site designation in all 27 EU countries, including marine areas. Only then, it believes, has the EU got a chance of meeting its goal of “halting the loss of Biodiversity by 2010”.

For further information please contact:-

Marta Ballesteros
EU Policy Coordinator
Tel: +32 (0)479 459 121

Zoltán Waliczky
European Advocacy Manager
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
Tel +44 (0)1767 693 449
Fax +44 (0)1767 683 211

Pieter de Pous
Biodiversity Policy Officer
European Environmental Bureau
Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1306

Andreas Baumüller
Biodiversity Policy Officer
WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 (0)2 740 0921
Mobile: +32 (0)498 - 540 786


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