With this directive, the European Union is seeking to ensure biodiversity by conserving natural habitats and wild fauna and flora in the territory of the Member States. An ecological network of special protected areas, known as "Natura 2000", is being set up for this purpose. The network is given coherence by other activities involving monitoring and surveillance, reintroduction of native species, introduction of non-native species, research and education. The Natura 2000 Network includes the SPAs of the Birds Directive. It is the largest ecological network in the world, representing 18% of the land in the EU. All three wetlands in L’Albufera, as well as the whole Natural Park, are included in this network.
Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora
Natural habitats (Natura 2000)
The European Union (EU) is seeking to ensure biodiversity by conserving natural habitats and wild fauna and flora in the territory of the Member States. An ecological network of special protected areas, known as "Natura 2000", is being set up for this purpose. The network is given coherence by other activities involving monitoring and surveillance, reintroduction of native species, introduction of non-native species, research and education.
Council directive 92/43/CEE on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.
The continuing deterioration of natural habitats and the threats posed to certain species are one of the main concerns of European Union (EU) environment policy. This Directive, known as the Habitats Directive, is intended to help maintain biodiversity in the Member States by defining a common framework for the conservation of wild plants and animals and habitats of Community interest.
The Habitats Directive established the "Natura 2000" network. This network is the largest ecological network in the world. It comprises special areas of conservation designated by Member States under the current Directive. Furthermore, it also includes special protection areas classified pursuant to the "Wild birds" Directive 2009/147/EC.
Annexes I and II to the Directive contain the types of habitats and species whose conservation requires the designation of special areas of conservation. Some of them are defined as "priority" habitats or species (in danger of disappearing). Annex IV lists animal and plant species in need of particularly strict protection.
Special areas of conservation are designated in three stages. Following the criteria set out in the annexes, each Member State must draw up a list of sites hosting natural habitats and wild fauna and flora. On the basis of the national lists and by agreement with the Member States, the Commission will then adopt a list of sites of Community importance for each of the nine EU biogeographical regions (the Alpine region, the Atlantic region, the Black Sea region, the Boreal region, the Continental region, the Macronesian region, the Mediterranean region, the Pannonian region and the Steppic region). No later than six years after the selection of a site of Community importance, the Member State concerned must designate it as a special area of conservation.
Where the Commission considers that a site which hosts a priority natural habitat type or a priority species has been omitted from a national list, the Directive provides for a bilateral consultation procedure to be initiated between that Member State and the Commission. If the result of the consultation is unsatisfactory, the Commission must forward a proposal to the Council relating to the selection of the site as a site of Community importance.
Member States must take all necessary measures to guarantee the conservation of habitats in special areas of conservation, and to avoid their deterioration and the significant disturbance of species. The Directive provides for co-financing of conservation measures by the Community.
Member States must also:
Every six years, Member States must report on the measures they have taken pursuant to the Directive. The Commission must draw up a summary report on the basis thereof.
The annexes to the Directive were amended to take account of the biodiversity of the countries who acceded to the EU in 2004 and 2007. The enlargement brought new challenges for biodiversity, as well as new elements, including three new biogeographical regions (the Black Sea region, the Pannonian region and the Steppic region).
The Natura 2000 network now represents around 18 % of the EU’s terrestrial territory.
Source - EUROPA > Summary of the EU legislation