This week saw the 2020 European Natura 2000 Award Ceremony. The Natura 2000 Awards reward excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites and showcase the added value of the network for local economies. Natura 2000 is a network of nearly 27,000 protected sites across Europe. These sites are selected to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats while promoting sustainable land use and economic activity. Special Protection Areas (SPAs) have been designated under the Birds Directive while Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) have been designated under the Habitats Directive.
The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, developed in the framework of the European Green Deal, points out that nature is as important for our mental and physical wellbeing as it is for our society’s ability to cope with global change, health threats and disasters. Therefore, it sets several objectives including the protection of at least 30% of the land and 30% of the sea in the European Union (EU) and the restoration of degraded ecosystems on land and at sea across the whole of Europe.
The Natura 2000 Barometer presented in the July 2020 edition of the Natura 2000 Newsletter shows that terrestrial Natura 2000 sites in the 27 Member States of the European Union cover 763,986 km² (18% of the EU’s land area). In addition to this, 8% of the EU’s land area is protected under national schemes. Thus, in total, 26% of the EU’s land area is already protected . Marine Natura 2000 sites cover 441,001 km² (8% of EU seas) and 3% of EU seas are protected under additional national protection, bringing the total protected area to 11% of seas . The present situation for terrestrial protected area is therefore close to the objective set in the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 while the Strategy aims for protection of another 19% for sea areas.
Two marine projects were recognised for their excellence at the 2020 European Natura 2000 Award Ceremony:
- The project Using underwater inventories for the conservation of marine areas in Finland won the Conservation Award.
- The project Eau la la!!! Eco-tips for sea and shore! won the Communication Award.
Learn more about these and the other projects who received an award in the European Commission’s news announcement and take this opportunity to discover, with the European Atlas of the Seas, where marine Natura 2000 sites are located! Want to know more about nature and biodiversity? Have a look at the programme of the EU Green Week 2020 which will be taking place online from 19-22 October 2020.
The data in this map are provided by EMODnet.