Designated areas (CSI 008) - Assessment published Nov 2005
What measures are being taken to ensure the in situ conservation of biodiversity components?
Cumulated area of nationally designated areas over time in 30 European countries for the period 1900-2002
Note: Overlap may exist due to multiple designation 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).Downloads and more info
Cumulative surface area of sites designated for the habitats directive over time (sites of Community importance - SCIs)
Note: The figure shows the cumulative surface area of sites designated for the habitats directive over time (sites of Community importance - SCIs)
- Natura 2000 data provided by Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV)
Cumulative surface area of sites designated for the birds directive over time (special protection areas - SPAs)
Note: The figure shows the cumulative surface area of sites designated for the birds directive over time (special protection areas - SPAs)
- Natura 2000 data provided by Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV)
Sufficiency Index (progress in the implementation of Habitats Directive)
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 September 2004) (marine species and habitats are not considered).
- Conclusions of the Natura 2000 biogeographic seminars provided by Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV)
Proportion of total surface area designated under the birds directive, protected only by national instruments and covered by both (special protection areas - SPAs)
Note: The figure shows the proportion of total surface area designated under the birds directive, protected only by national instruments and covered by both (special protection areas - SPAs)Downloads and more info
Proportion of total surface area designated only for the habitats directive, protected only by national instruments, and covered by both (sites of Community importance - SCIs)
Note: The figure shows the proportion of total surface area designated only for the habitats directive, protected only by national instruments, and covered by both (sites of Community importance - SCIs)Downloads and more info
Worldwide, countries use the designation of protected areas as a means of conserving biodiversity components (genes, species, habitats, ecosystems), each country applying its own selection criteria and objectives. A part of this indicator shows that there is a significant positive trend in establishing nationally-designated areas in Europe (Figure 1).
A common perspective for the European Communities was defined in 1979 for wild birds and their habitats and in 1992 for fauna, flora and habitats by two directives. On the basis of these two legal requirements, EU Member States have classified and/or proposed sites for establishing the European Natura 2000 network. Another part of the indicator shows that there has been a steady increase in the cumulative area of sites designated for the Natura 2000 network over the past ten years, from approximately 8 to 29 million hectares under the Birds Directive as Special Protection Areas and from 0 to approximately 45 million hectares under the Habitats Directive as Sites of Community Importance (Figures 2 and 3).
Natura 2000 site designation is proportional to the representation of the specific habitat types and species within a country's territories. Some countries have greater representation of listed species and habitats than others. Therefore these countries have designated larger parts of their territory, as is the case with southern countries of Europe as well as the large countries of the north. Spain leads by contributing more than 10 million hectares, followed by Sweden with about 5 million hectares.
The sufficiency index for Natura 2000 sites designated under the Habitats Directive shows that most countries are proposing sites towards a level that is considered sufficient to achieve favourable conservation status for habitats and species covered by the Directive (Figure 4).
Figures 5 and 6 demonstrate the extent to which nationally-designated sites that already exist fulfil the criteria of the European Directives. They also provide a snapshot of the significance of the contribution of European legislation to in situ conservation in Europe.
What measures are being taken to conserve or restore biodiversity at the EU level and are they effective?
Special Protection Areas classification for the Birds Directive is in progress for the last five years as proposals for Sites of Community Importance for the Habitats Directive. But the European Commission considers the network is clearly insufficient for several countries. Comparison between countries is complicated by the heterogeneous distribution and abundance of species and habitats. Some countries have a heavier burden than others in implementing the Directives(Figure 2 and 3).
The sufficiency index shows the progress in proposing sites towards a level that is considered sufficient to achieve favourable conservation status for habitats and species of the Habitats Directive (Figure 4). By September 2004, two Member States, Belgium and The Netherlands have proposed sufficient sites. This means that that they have accomplished proposing sufficient sites for all the species and habitats of the Directive occurring in their country.
The progress for the rest of the Member States is slow but good and now seven additional Member States (Denmark, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden and UK) have more than 90% sufficiency in proposing sites. The ten new EU Member States are included in the Natura 2000 network and they have proposed sites under the Habitats Directive. The proposals by these Member States however, are not considered by this version of the indicator, because the data for the proposed sites have not yet been validated and submitted to the Natura 2000 database. When the data has been entered in the database it can evaluated and later on included in a future version of the indicator.
Marine areas have been excluded in the indicator, since the European Commission and the Member States are still working on selection criteria for sites for the protection of marine habitats and species.
The sites of the Natura 2000 network are adding value to the existing national designations of Member States in EU 15. The net contribution of the EU network is positive in all countries, both in the Special Protection Areas (SPAs) of the Birds Directive and in the Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) of the Habitats Directive . This can be seen in figures 5 and 6.
Indicator specification and metadata
The indicator shows different trends of surface area (in km2) designated under national legislation, under EU Directives and under international conventions and initiatives:
- Changes over time in cumulative surface area of sites designated nationally;
- Changes over time in cumulative surface area of sites designated under EC Birds and Habitats Directives;
- Changes over time in cumulative surface area of sites designated under international conventions and initiatives.
The indicator also shows the current status of implementation of the Habitats Directive by EU-25 Member-States expressed as a:
- Sufficiency Index (distance to target), which provides a measure of progress in the implementation of the Habitats Directive.
The indicator shows the proportion of a country designated total area that is protected under either the EC Birds and/or Habitats Directives, or by national instruments, or by both.
- Share of surface areas designated only under the EC Birds and Habitats Directives, protected only by national instruments, and covered by both
Km2, %, Number of species and habitats listed by the Habitats Directive.
Policy context and targets
Halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 is one target expressed by the 6EAP and the European Council at Gothenburg and re-expressed by the Environment Council in Brussels by June 2004.
This Council also "urges the Commission and Member States to implement the new Programmes of Work adopted at COP 7 on Protected Areas". This programme includes the need "to update information on status and trends of, and threats to, protected areas".
In addition to national policies, countries have made international commitments to protect nature through signing up to a series of conventions (Ramsar Convention, Helsinki Convention, Barcelona Convention). Most of these instruments involve the designation by Contracting parties of sites for conservation of species and/or ecosystems of special concern.
At EU level, policy on nature conservation is essentially made up of two pieces of legislation, the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive. Together, they establish a legislative framework for protecting and conserving the European Union's wildlife and habitats.
Even if the implementation and the specific objectives of the legal measures at the three levels (international, European and national) are different (strict measures, management measures), they all have in common to designate sites in order to ensure the conservation of biodiversity. This indicator helps to analyse how these different instruments complement each other.
The Sufficiency indicator has been used for the 2003 Annual Environment Policy Review by the Commission. It will contribute to the Sustainable Development Indicators of level II (Eurostat 2004).
The designation of protected sites process for the Habitats Directive includes biogeographical seminars organised by the European Commission during which each Member State's proposals for sites are assessed against common agreed criteria (Annex III of the Directive). The conclusions from these seminars are published on the Commission Natura 2000 website. The sites proposed and subsequently designated under the Habitats Directive constitute part of the Natura 2000 network. The sites designated under the Birds Directive constitute the other part of the Natura 2000 network.
There are no quantitative targets for this indicator.
At the international level, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) target is "the establishment and maintenance by 2010 for terrestrial and by 2012 for marine areas of comprehensive, effectively managed, and ecologically representative national and regional systems of protected areas that collectively, inter alia through a global network/ contribute to achieving the three objectives of the Convention and the 2010 target to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss;" In addition, the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation has one of the global targets as "at least 10 per cent of each of the world's ecological regions effectively conserved".
At EU level, the target is to have "a Natura 2000 network completed on land by 2005, marine sites by 2008 and management objectives for all sites agreed and instigated by 2010."
The Habitats Directive Article 3 paragraph 2 gives the following objective for the Natura 2000 network: "Each Member State shall contribute to the creation of Natura 2000 in proportion to the representation within its territory of the natural habitat types and the habitats of species referred to in paragraph 1; To that effect each Member State shall designate, in accordance with Article 4, sites as special areas of conservation taking into account of the objectives set out in paragraph 1."
In addition related to the Birds directive, it is detailed that " Whereas all the areas designated, including those classified now or in the future as special protection areas pursuant to Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds(5), will have to be incorporated into the coherent European ecological network", meaning incorporated in the Natura 2000 network.
Member States shall every six years report on the implementation of the measures taken under the Habitats Directive (Article 17).
Related policy documents
CBD COP7 Decision 28 Protected Areas
Decision 28 on Protected Areas from the 7th Conference of the Parties (COP7) to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
COM (1998) 42
Communication of the European Commission to the Council and to the European Parliament on a European Community Biodiversity Strategy. COM (1998) 42
COM (2001) 31 final. Environment 2010.
Environment 2010: Our future, our choice, 6th Environmental Action Programme, Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. COM (2001) 31 final.
Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992
Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.
EU Council Conclusion 10997/04 Halting the loss of biodiversity
EU council conclusion of 28 June 2004 on Halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 (10997/04)
Message from Malahide
'Message from Malahide'. Outcome of the EU Presidency stakeholder conference 'Biodiversity and the EU - Sustaining life, sustaining livelihoods', 25-27 May 2004, Malahide, Ireland.
Sixth Environment Action Programme
DECISION No 1600/2002/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 22 July 2002 laying down the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme
Methodology for indicator calculation
Below are described the methodologies helping to produce the different graphs relevant for this indicator.
Cumulated area of nationally designated areas over time in European countries for the period YYYY-YYYY in km2
- Selection of countries providers of data through the EEA priority data flow
- Check if the size and year fields are filled-in and calculate percentage of sites where this information is missing
- Sum of size of each site described in the database per year
Cumulative surface area of sites designated for EC Birds and Habitats Directives over time
- Sum of size of each site registered in the yearly versions of Natura 2000 database and grouped per year
NB: formely, the Natura 2000 database registers sites proposed by the member states which are not yet designated. But by October 2006, six Community lists have been adopted for the EU15 and covered the Macaronesia, Alpine, Atlantic, Continental, Boreal and Mediterranean regions. Therefore the 2006 figure reflects the situation for the designated sites from EU15 and the proposed sites from EU10
Sufficiency Index (progress in the implementation of Habitats Directive)
For each biogeographical region, seminars are organised by the European Commission and the European Topic Centre for Nature Protection and Biodiversity gathering Member States representatives of the region and scientific experts. The goal of the seminar is to assess if each habitat and each species of Annexes I and II occurring in the region are sufficiently represented in the pSCIs proposed by the Member States. The conclusions from the biogeographical seminars provide data for development of this indicator. The submission of proposals for protected sites is a continuous process until all countries reach sufficiency.
The sum by biogeographical region per country of the proportion of Annex I habitats and Annex II species that are sufficiently represented in the pSCIs in relation to the number of species and habitats on the Commission's Reference lists of habitat types and species for each biogeographic region. The sufficiency of a Member State is weighted by the proportion of the biogeographical region's area within the Member State. The weighting compensates for the relatively higher burden of a large biogeographical area in the country. This is because it is harder to propose sufficient sites for a large biogeographical area than for a smaller biogeographical area in the same country.
For each MS:
SUFFMS = SUM(i=1 to i=n) ((habi/ HABi + spi/SPi)/2)(Area(Bi)/Area(MS))
SUFFMS : Sufficiency index for a Member State by summing up SUFF for each biogeographic region.
n = number of biogeographical regions within Member States
habi = number of Annex I habitats sufficiently represented for the biogeographical region i
HABi = Number of Annex I habitats listed in the Commission's Reference List
spi = number of Annex II species sufficiently represented for the biogeographical region i
SPi = Number of Annex II species listed in the Commission's Reference List
Area(Bi) = Surface area of biogeographical region i within a Member State (km2).
Methodology for gap filling
No gap filling applied
No methodology references available.
Fig 5 and 6
For the moment, some discrepancy may exist between the database on Natura 2000 and the database on nationally designated areas (CDDA) due to different processes of update but the common information must be equivalent relying on the same national sources.
Data sets uncertainty
- In data sets;
- Geographical and time coverage on EU level
Some improvement in the update of the CDDA
In 2007 number of countries providing update the:
year - 1
year - 2
year > 3
Natura 2000: the reliability and accuracy of the data is high.
CDDA International: gaps do exist; data collection must be improved
- Representativeness of data on national level
CDDA National: overlap exists between different sites of a same country because different national instruments can fully or partly cover a same site. In the future, the digitized boundaries will help to calculate this overlap.
Natura 2000: the strength of the data set is the common data form filled in by all countries for each pSCI. On the basis of these standard data a common methodology is applied for assessing sufficiency across Member States and biogeographic regions.
CDDA National: the comparability is good due to a specific format requested through the process of data flow priority established by the EEA.Natura 2000 : the comparability is good due to the Standard Data Form filled by all Member States.
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
Biodiversity (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- CSI 008
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoKatarzyna Biala
EEA Management Plan2010 (note: EEA internal system)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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