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Updated guidelines for EU's nature protection network

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Updated guidelines for EU's nature protection network

Bialowieski Forest - Photo By Ralf Lotys - Sicherlich

(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission published Wednesday an updated guidance for national authorities and citizens on how to conserve and manage the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

The guidance clearly explains the provisions of Article 6 of the Habitats Directive. This is one of the most important articles for the overall implementation of the EU Nature directives (Birds and Habitats directives), as it defines how Natura 2000 sites are managed and protected.

The guidance is intended primarily for Member State competent authorities, but also for anybody involved in the management of Natura 2000 sites and in the permit procedures for plans and projects, including developers, scientific experts and consultants, Natura 2000 site managers, non-governmental organisations and EU citizens.

Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: "With today's updated guidance document we're helping to ensure that EU nature laws deliver for nature, people and the economy. Sound management of the Natura 2000 sites is essential for the maintenance and enhancement of Europe's biodiversity, ecosystems and the services they provide on which some 4.4 million jobs in the EU are directly dependent. I trust that this document will be of great use for the management of Natura 2000 sites, helping to better reconcile nature protection with different economic activities for the broader benefit of society."

The primary aim of this revision was to incorporate relevant rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU issued since the initial publication of the guidance in 2000, as well as to integrate in a single coherent document other relevant Commission notes and guidance documents. It provides clarifications of key concepts to Member State authorities and stakeholders. The Commission says this will help them perform their duties efficiently, for example when designing appropriate measures for the active conservation of habitats and species or for preventing their deterioration, or when carrying out assessments of potentially damaging activities and making the necessary decisions.

Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of the EU's nature and biodiversity policy. Established under the EU's Birds Directive and Habitats Directive it is a EU-wide network of over 27,500 terrestrial and marine sites covering more than 18 % of land area and is the centrepiece of the EU's nature and biodiversity policy.

While national and regional authorities are primarily responsible for the implementation of EU nature legislation, today's guidance provides added clarity to help Member States to improve application of provisions around permitting procedures (Article 6 of the Habitats Directive).

Through clear and accessible explanations, the Commission anticipates to reduce administrative burdens, streamline procedures across Member States, and enhance overall implementation on the ground for the benefit of nature, people and the economy.

Action plan

Detailed factsheets providing more information on the 15 sets of actions

Commission guidance on Natura 2000 management

Document Actions