Designated areas (CSI 008) - Assessment published Dec 2007
Biodiversity (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- CSI 008
Key policy question: What measures are being taken to ensure the in situ conservation of biodiversity components?
The designation of protected areas is a cornerstone for the conservation of biodiversity worldwide, from genes to species, habitats and ecosystems. In June 2006, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) re-affirmed the role of protected areas as cornerstones of biodiversity conservation, but also highlighted that many are "beset with managerial and financial difficulties that impede their effective management".
- At the European level, there has been an increase in the total area of nationally-designated protected areas over time, indicating a positive commitment by European countries to biodiversity conservation. The total area of nationally designated sites in 37 European countries was more than 95.5 million hectares in 2005.
- There has also been an increase in the total area of Natura 2000 sites over the past two years. This has been a result of ten new Member States joining the EU in 2004, as well the designation of new Natura 2000 sites in other Member States under the Birds and Habitats Directives.
- The level of sufficiency in designating Natura 2000 sites for the Habitats Directive is high for most EU-25 countries (18 countries have sufficiency above 80%) and the new Member States are doing well.
In addition to quantitative signals it is important to also keep in mind the crucial need to have a qualitative view on the efficiency of the network of designated areas.
- Marine areas are not yet represented as Natura 2000 sites as the EU is still developing selection criteria.
- There are increasing pressures on biodiversity outside of protected areas, and in the future, an assessment of the effectiveness of designated sites in protecting and conserving biodiversity will be needed.
Cumulated area of nationally designated areas over time in 37 European countries up to 2005
Note: Overlap may exist due to multiple designations for a same site but the overestimation can be masked by an &amp;quot;underestimation&amp;quot; of the inventory (some national datasets are not complete).
- Nationally designated areas (CDDA) provided by European Environment Agency (EEA)
Cumulative surface area of sites designated for EC birds directive over time (special protection areas - SPAs)
Note: The figure shows the cumulative surface area of sites designated for EC birds directive over time (special protection areas - SPAs)
- Nationally designated areas (CDDA) provided by European Environment Agency (EEA)
Cumulative surface area of sites designated for EC Habitats Directive over time (Sites of Community Importance - SCIs)
Note: The figure shows the cumulative surface area of sites designated for EC Habitats Directive over time (Sites of Community Importance - SCIs)
- Natura 2000 data provided by Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV)
Sufficiency Index (State of progress by Member States in reaching sufficiency for the Habitat Directive Annex I habitats and Annex II species)
Note: Bars show the degree to which Member States have proposed sites that are considered sufficient to protect the habitats and species mentioned in Habitats Directive Annex I and II (situation January 2007) (marine species and habitats are not considered).
- Conclusions of the Natura 2000 biogeographic seminars provided by Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV)
Measures at Member State level - What areas are protected under national legislation?
Member States have national legislation that enables them to establish various types of protected areas. For nationally-designated protected areas, the total area protected in Europe continues to increase (Figure 1).
However, an increase in total area of protected sites may be correlated to increasing pressures on biodiversity outside those areas, for instance through growing urbanisation and transport infrastructures. Therefore, the expansion of protected areas and their role in protecting biodiversity has to be considered and assessed within the wider environment.
Measures at EU level
There was a steady increase in the cumulative area of the Natura 2000 network over the past two years. SCIs increased in coverage from 45 to more than 56 million hectares (Figure 2) and SPAs increased from approximately 29 million hectares to 45 million hectares (Figure 3). These increases are mainly due to the 10 new countries who joined the EU in 2004, but also due to new designations of protected areas by Member States particularly under the Birds Directive. The area designated by France increased significantly, by 170 % over the last two years.
The percentage of terrestrial area covered by SCIs and SPAs per country indicates progress in establishing these areas and the European Commission publishes this in the 'EU Barometer'. As of December 2006, six Member States had designated more than 15 % of their territory as SCIs: Slovenia (31.4 %); Spain (22.6 %); Portugal (17.4 %); Greece (16.4 %); Estonia (15.9 %); and Hungary (15.0 %).
Are Natura 2000 objectives being met?
Progress in fulfilling the objectives of the Natura 2000 network will be assessed in two ways for the Habitats Directive:
- the proposal and designation by EU Member States of sufficient Natura 2000 sites that are home to species and habitats of European concern; and
- the extent to which the designation of such sites is effective in achieving favourable conservation status for those species and habitats.
The sufficiency index shows the progress of individual EU countries in proposing sites that contribute to the Habitats Directive. This is measured against a threshold that is considered sufficient to achieve a favourable conservation status for those species and habitats of concern (Figure 4). Comparison between countries is complicated by the heterogeneous distribution and abundance of species and habitats, and as a result some countries have a heavier burden than others in implementing the Directives (Figures 2 and 3).
Marine areas are not included in the sufficiency index, because the European Commission and Member States are still developing selection criteria for sites for the protection of marine habitats and species.
Contribution of Natura 2000 sites to total area under protection
The sites of the Natura 2000 network provide added-value to the existing national designations of Member States in the EU. The net contribution of the Natura 2000 network to in situ conservation is shown in Figures 5 and 6, indicating both the SPAs of the Birds Directive and in the SCIs of the Habitats Directive, respectively.
Specific policy question: What measures are being taken to conserve or restore biodiversity at the EU level and are they effective?
Each country has its own policy and legislation for establishing protected areas at national level. The implementation of the Natura 2000 network has made full or partial use of these existing national instruments, when they fulfilled the criteria of the Habitats and Birds Directives. In many cases however, the implementation of the Natura 2000 has led to significant additional designations.
Although much slower than originally expected, the progress in proposing Natura 2000 sites has now accelerated and is good. For most countries, the sites they have proposed are considered nearly sufficient to achieve favourable conservation status for species and habitats covered by the Directive.
In January 2007, two Member States (
Whether or not the sites designated as national protected areas and Natura 2000 sites are effective in achieving favourable conservation status for species and habitats of concern - the second stage in assessing whether Natura 2000 objectives - needs to be critically assessed in the future.
Nationally designated areas (CDDA)
provided by European Environment Agency (EEA)
Common Database on Designated Areas (CDDA International)
provided by United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Conclusions of the Natura 2000 biogeographic seminars
provided by Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV)
More information about this indicator
See this indicator specification for more details.
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoKatarzyna Biala
EEA Management Plan2010 (note: EEA internal system)
This document is part of the SOER 2015 product.