All official European Union website addresses are in the europa.eu domain.See all EU institutions and bodies
HOW THE EU IS PROTECTING NATURE
The main pillars of EU nature protection legislation, which all EU Member States have transposed into their national laws, are two European laws called the Birds Directive (1979) and the Habitats Directive (1992), jointly referred to as the EU Nature Directives.
Both directives follow a similar and complementary approach. They protect:
1. Natural areas that are home to wild species and habitats. The areas to be protected are identified according to agreed scientific criteria. They are called Natura 2000 sites and together form the largest network of protected areas in the world.
2. Specific species both within and outside Natura 2000 sites.
MORE INFORMATION IS CONTAINED IN THE REPORT ON THE EU BIRDS AND HABITATS DIRECTIVES
PROTECTING OUR NATURAL PLACES: THE NATURA 2000 NETWORK
The Natura 2000 network is the biggest network of protected areas in the world. It comprises about 27,000 sites across 27 EU Member States, and currently covers more than 18 percent of the European Union’s land area and around 9 percent of its marine area. The network protects around 1,500 typical, rare or threatened animal and plant species in the EU.
The biggest Natura 2000 site is the Mers Celtiques marine area on the Atlantic coast of France, while the Grotta della Lovara - which protects a number of endangered bats in the Italian Alps - is one of the smallest sites. Among the rarest habitats and species protected by the network are the Tufa cascades of karstic rivers of the Dinaric Alps, the Olm (Proteus anguinus), and the Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) which is only found in the Canary Islands.
Explore Natura 2000 sites anywhere in the EU 🠦 Natura 2000 Network Viewer
HOW DO WE KNOW THE STATUS OF THE EU’S NATURE?
Each EU country regularly collects information about its protected species and habitats in order to monitor their condition. This is essential to understand how a species or habitat is doing, which threats it is facing, and how to design the best possible conservation measures. It is also the basis for analysing trends in the status of protected species and habitats across the EU.
Every six years, the EU Member States report this information to the European Environment Agency (EEA). The EEA integrates the information into its databases (for example, the European Nature Information System (EUNIS)) and publishes the “State of nature in EU” as an EEA technical report, accompanied by a European Commission policy report. The latest report was published in 2020 and revealed that the majority of species (63 percent) and habitats (81 percent) protected by the Habitats Directive are not in a good conservation status.