Natura 2000 Network of Protected Areas

Natura 2000 Network of Protected Areas

2 May 2018

Quote icon

Its primary purpose is to ensure the long-term preservation of endangered species and natural habitats that are threatened by extinction and the conservation of biodiversity.


Natura 2000 is a network of protected sites established by the European Union in 1992, having at its foundation the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive, a cornerstone in the EU nature conservation policy.

Natura 2000 is the most important frame for stopping the decline of European biodiversity. It, therefore, ensures the preservation of the natural systems that underpin the economic and social development.

It offers opportunities for rural development in harmony nature because nature protection cannot be made without the support of local communities.

When designating these areas, there was no idea of strict protection which prohibits human activity. On the contrary, in numerous Natura 2000 areas, many human activities related to the management of natural assets may be carried out. In many cases, the survival of habitats and species in Natura 2000 areas has been possible especially to the traditional agricultural techniques. There is a continuous search for those solutions that regulate human activities so that their damage to nature is minimal.

Natura 2000 network includes two types of protected areas:

• SCI (Sites of Community Importance) are designated either for the protection of natural habitats (231 habitat types) or for the protection of various species (there are over 800 priority species).

• SPA (Special Protection Areas) are designated for the protection of more than 200 bird species. Birds had been given a more important role in the designation of these sites because their protection contributes to the preservation of many other species (the umbrella effect).

All of these sites within the EU countries make up the Natura 2000 network, which ensures protection and safeguarding of species and habitats in Europe through specific measures.

The protected Natura 2000 areas in Europe and Romania can be seen here.

  • The text is an excerpt from “The Mysterious Bustard” (available in Hungarian and Romanian).
  • Authors: Kelemen Katalin, Nagy Attila and Papp Judith (Milvus Group)