Brussels, 13 November 2007
The Commission today adopted four decisions that significantly extend the Natura 2000 network in four biogeographical regions. Given the large natural variation in bio-diversity across the EU, the directive divides the Community into different so called bio-geographical regions: Atlantic, Continental, Alpine, Mediterranean, Boreal, Macaronesian and Pannonian. The decisions today concern the adoption of an initial list of Sites of Community Importance in the Pannonian region in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia and the updating of the existing lists in the Atlantic, Boreal and Continental biogeographical regions. Natura 2000 is an EU-wide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). It is the centrepiece of EU nature & biodiversity policy.
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "Protecting biodiversity is an important priority for the European Union. The Natura 2000 network is the cornerstone of EU biodiversity policy, and a key element in the fight to halt biodiversity loss by 2010. I am delighted that we have made such significant progress towards the completion of the network and I am particularly happy to see sites from the newer Member States added to the EU lists for the first time. "
The four Commission Decisions considerably extend the Natura 2000 network, adding 4.255 new sites of Community importance and a total area of some 90.000 square kilometres (about the size of Portugal).
The Pannonian biogeographical region in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia is a new addition. The decisions also extend the Natura 2000 network in the Atlantic, Boreal and Continental biogeograpghical regions, adding the contribution of the Member States that joined the EU in 2004 and a significant number of Sites of Community Importance in several 'old' Member States (including France, Germany, Spain and Italy) that are completing their national proposals. The addition of large areas in the offshore marine environment designated as sites of Community importance is also new, withmore than 8.000 km² proposed by Germany.
The Commission is due to update the Community lists for the Alpine and the Macaronesian biogeographical regions later this year and the list for the Mediterranean biogeographical region in January 2008.
Natura 2000 is an EU-wide network of nature protection areas intended to ensure the longterm survival of Europe's most valuable habitats and endangered species. It is comprised of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) designated by Member States under the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated under the 1979 Birds Directive (79/409/EEC). The establishment of the network of protected areas also fulfils a Community obligation under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. EU nature directives stipulate that conservation objectives should be met while taking account of economic, social, cultural, regional and recreational requirements. Member States decide on their own methods and instruments to implement the directives.
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