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Natura2000

What is Natura 2000 ?

Natura 2000 is a European network of interconnected sites supporting the most valuable and threatened species and habitats in the European Union. The Natura 2000 network is stemming from the Birds (1979) and Habitats (1992) Directives. Natura 2000 is also the centrepiece of EU nature & biodiversity policy. Member States are required to create and maintain a coherent network of areas designed to protect specific flora and fauna and their habitats. Not only the ecological quality of each protected site but also its direct contribution to the global coherence of the network at the regional and the EU level is analysed

Over 26 0000 sites have already been included in the Natura 2000 network and they cover almost 18 % of the EU terrestrial territory and more than 130 000 km² of its seas The recent enlargement of the network was mainly made up of marine sites, notably in France, Denmark and Spain.

The Natura2000 network includes two types of area divided into biogeographical regions :

  • Special Protection Areas (SPA) aimed at the protection of wild birds and their habitats
  • Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) aimed at the protection of rare, endangered or vulnerable natural habitats and species of fauna (except of birds) and flora.

The Natura 2000 network is not a system of strict nature reserves. Most of the land designated under Natura 2000 continues to be privately owned. The emphasis is given on ensuring sustainable management conciliating both ecological and economic goals.

Natura 2000 - Why ?

In the 1970's Member States realized the necessity to address environmental issues at the EU level and agreed to do a better job for biodiversity conservation. The decision was taken, both to comply with obligations derived from international conventions and to fins specific ecological problems, including cross border issues. In 1979, the Birds Directive was adopted to protect migratory species and it was complemented in 1992 by the Habitats Directive protecting habitats and species of Community interest.

Biodiversity strategy

Natura 2000 is a key element of the new EU Biodiversity Strategy. Adopted by the European Commission in May 2011 and endorsed by the Council more than a month later, the new EU Biodiversity Strategy aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, and restore them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss.

Natura 2000 Belgium

In Flanders

There are 62 Natura 2000 Sites in Flanders. There are not only big and famous sites such as het Zwin or de Kalmthoutse, but also small localities. The largest site has an area of 13 125 hectares and the smallest only 86 hectares. Flanders is responsible for 44 various habitats ranging from coastal dune vegetation, heaths and grasslands to rare types of biologically valuable forests. Flanders is also responsible for protection of 107 European species.

In Wallonia

In Wallonia, there are 240 sites covering 220 944 ha. This corresponds to approximately 13% of the region. The 75% of the Natura 2000 network in the southern region consists of Walloon forests. In Wallonia, there are 44 habitats of Community interest (of which 10 are priority habitats), 101 bird species of Community interest and 31 other species of Community interest.

In Brussels

In the Brussels-Capital Region, three Special Protection Areas have been designed under the directive "Habitats". However, no area meets the "Birds Directive".