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Brussels, 17 January 2005

Nature protection: Commission designates 5,000 sites in the Boreal region for the Natura 2000 network

The Commission has made further progress in the establishment of Natura 2000, the EU’s network of sites protecting threatened and vulnerable species and habitats. It has adopted the list of sites for the Boreal region (woodlands), which covers the main parts of Finland and Sweden. The list includes over 5,000 sites providing protection for species such as the Lynx, the Flying squirrel and Fairy Slipper, and for habitats such as Western Taiga, raised bogs and aapa mires, as well as freshwater and land upheaval coast habitats. The Boreal region is one of six bio-geographic regions in EU-15[1] and the fifth for which the Commission has adopted a list. Species and sites under Natura 2000 benefits from increased protection through a number of measures and safeguards which must be respected.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “Natura 2000 is central to meeting the EU's objective of halting the decline of biodiversity by 2010. Its completion is now well on its way after the adoption of the EU list of protected sites for the Boreal region. I am confident that the coming months will allow us to strengthen this central tool for the protection of fauna and flora in the EU. This will be achieved through the adoption of the Mediterranean list and progress in the adoption of the lists that concern the new Member States.”

Natura 2000 network

The Natura 2000 network is set up under the EU’s Habitats Directive[2] of 1992 to safeguard Europe’s most important wildlife areas and species. As part of Natura 2000, the selected areas benefit from increased protection: Member States must take all the necessary measures to guarantee their conservation and avoid their deterioration. Not all economic activity in the sites is excluded, but Member States must ensure that such activities are carried out in a way which is compatible with the conservation of the habitats and species living there.

The Boreal list

The Boreal list just adopted covers sites in parts of the territory of two Member States, Finland and Sweden. This list of protected areas includes a large number of endangered animal and plant species and habitats, such as the Lynx, the Flying squirrel, the Ringed seals, the Flat bark beetle, the Field sagewort, the Pendantgrass, the Fairy Slipper and the Western Lapland Buttercup as well as various types of forests, rocky habitats and caves, raised bogs and aapa mires, freshwater and land upheaval coast habitats, coastal sand dunes. The protection of these species and habitats is scientifically considered to be of European importance. A joint EU effort is therefore necessary to ensure bio-diversity and the conservation of natural fauna and flora in this region of Europe.

Next steps

The next step towards the completion on the Natura 2000 network will be the adoption of one more list of sites for EU-15: the EU Mediterranean bio-geographical region. After that the main focus will shift to the establishment of the Natura 2000 network in the new Member States. At the same time, the Commission will pay increased attention to the proper management of the network.

See MEMO/05/13 for more details

For more information on the adopted lists (decision text and annexes, overview maps, background material) see:

[1] The six bio-geographical regions in EU-15 are : Macaronesian, Alpine, Atlantic, Continental, Mediterranean and Boreal regions

[2] Council Directive (92/43/EEC) on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora

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