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Nationally designated protected areas (SEBI 007) - Assessment published Jun 2011

Indicator Assessment Created 26 Oct 2010 Published 16 Jun 2011 Last modified 26 Aug 2014, 01:33 PM
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Generic metadata


Biodiversity Biodiversity (Primary topic)

protected areas | cdda | biodiversity
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • SEBI 007
Temporal coverage:
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

Key policy question: What is the progress with the national designation of protected areas as a tool for biodiversity conservation?

Key messages

The total area of nationally-designated protected areas in Europe (1) has increased over time. The total area of nationally designated sites in 39 European countries was more than 1 million square kilometres in 2009. In Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA countries), the area of nationally designated sites is at least 1.5 million square kilometres. 1.2 million square kilometres can be added to the area in the EECCA countries, the information about the year of the designation is missing, however (2).


This quantitative information needs to be complemented by a qualitative assessment of the efficiency and the representativeness of the network of designated areas including good management practices.


  1. A "Nationally designated area" is an area designated by a national designation instrument based on national legislation. If a country has included in its legislation the sites designated under the EU Birds and Habitats directive, the Natura 2000 sites of this country are included in the figure.
  2. For 39 European countries, there is 0,037 km2 of additional designated areas but without any information of designation year. For the EECCA countries, for 25 % of sites included in the database, no size information is available.


Growth of the nationally designated protected areas and site number in 39 EEA countries

Note: How to read the graph: In 1995 there was more than 40 000 of nationally designated sites within the 39 countries. More than 600 000 km2 were under national designations.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Key assessment

In 39 countries, on average 16 % of the terrestrial area has been designated as a national protected area  (see map Centers of Nationally designated areas (CDDA), status 2009).

Nationally designated areas (CDDA), status 2009 - site centre points


The growth in nationally designated areas in 39 EEA countries has been exponential, and it has been levelling off in recent years. A precise assessment of trends over time is much more difficult to make for EECCA countries because of gaps in the data. These countries contain around 18000 sites covering in total 2.6 million square kilometres. However, for more than 2 thirds of the sites no designation date is known, and one fourth of the sites no size information is known.


Countries 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.


On the one hand it is difficult to know exactly how far these areas contribute to halt the loss of biodiversity without any specific information on site management as there is no common scheme of quality monitoring and assessment for these sites. On the other hand, other indicators can show how much pressure on biodiversity outside those areas increases through growing urbanisation and transport infrastructures for instance.

Therefore, the expansion of protected areas and their role in protecting biodiversity have to be considered and assessed within the wider environment and with the climate change perspective.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

User not found: bialakat


EEA Management Plan

2010 1.2.2 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year in October-December (Q4)


European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100