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Sites designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives

Indicator Specificationexpired Created 26 Feb 2007 Published 21 May 2010 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
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This content has been archived on 09 Apr 2015, reason: Other (New version data-and-maps/indicators/sites-designated-under-the-eu-1 was published)
Indicator codes: SEBI 008

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)
  • No published assessments


Justification for indicator selection


  • Policy relevance: the indicator is directly indicating the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives. Therefore it is highly relevant for Member States and EU nature conservation policy.
  • Established mechanism and methodology: within EU Member States there are already processes in place for compilation of information on Natura 2000 sites at both national and regional levels. The indicator is clear and shows growth in total area and sufficiency of designation per country over time.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

The indicator shows the current status of implementation of the Habitats (92/43/EEC) and Birds Directives (79/409/EEC) by EU Member States. It does this by showing (a) trends in spatial coverage of proposals of sites and (b) by calculating a sufficiency index based on those proposals.


% of sites

Policy context and targets

Context description

Establishment of sites designated under the Habitats and Birds Directives is a direct response to concerns over biodiversity loss, so an indicator on increase in coverage is a valuable indication of commitment to conserving biodiversity and reducing its loss.

It is however essential that indicators of coverage are also combined with indicators demonstrating the extent to which these protected areas adequately cover components of biodiversity.

The EC Habitats Directive and Birds Directive aim to conserve natural habitats and wild fauna and flora within the European Union. Member States must propose sites for protection of the habitats and species listed in the Annexes to the Directive. The first sub-indicator 'Trends in spatial coverage of proposals for sites designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives' presents the change in area coverage of sites proposed by Member States in km2.

The objective of the second sub-indicator 'sufficiency index' is to show how close Member States are to the target of having proposed sufficient sites. Member States with a 100 percent sufficiency have proposed sufficient sites according to the European Commission for all Annex I terrestrial habitat types and Annex II terrestrial species of Community interest occurring in their territory as assessed according to the specifications of the relevant Directive.

Relation of the indicator to the focal area

EU action relevant to protected areas network expansion began under the 1979 Birds Directive and was followed by the 1992 Habitats Directive. The 1998 EU biodiversity strategy was designed in accordance with the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and the commitments taken under the CBD have been carried forward into the EU Sixth Environment Action Programme, maintaining the aim of a gradual and constant strengthening of in situ conservation in Europe.
Member States have been given six years following the adoption of the list of sites of community importance (SCIs) to develop and enforce the measures necessary to protect and manage identified sites and in doing so designate them as special areas for conservation or protected areas.


2010 biodiversity target

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified

Key policy question

Have countries proposed sufficient sites under the Habitats and Birds Directives?


Methodology for indicator calculation

Trends in proposals for sites designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives

Sum of area in km2 of each site registered in the annual versions of Natura 2000 database and grouped per year ofproposal/designation.

Information is collected from national authorities by DG Environment and processed by the EEA-ETC/BD (European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity). Further improvements on dataflows are under discussion.

Sufficiency Index

For each biogeographical region, seminars are organised by the European Commission and the EEA European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity, gathering Member State representatives of the region and scientific experts. The goal of the seminars is to  assess if each habitat and each species of Annexes I and II occurring in the region is sufficiently represented in the sites proposed as being of Community interest on the national list presented by a Member State (pSCIs). The conclusions of 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 indicator calculates the sum, by biogeographical region and 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 more demanding to propose sufficient sites for a large biogeographical area than for a smaller biogeographical area in the same country.

Sufficiency is then calculated as follows for each Member State:

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 a Member State
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


Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

External data references

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty


  • Only covers EU Member States.
  • The process for the Sufficiency Index is not fully automated at present i.e. national agencies cannot provide data through an automated procedure. Instead, the process depends on the outcomes of the biogeographic seminars mentioned earlier.


Initially, 8 possible indicators were proposed under the Headline Indicator:

1. Trends in national establishment of protected areas

2. Trends in proposals for protected sites under the EU Habitats Directive

3. Trends in nomination of wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites)

4. Coverage of Important Bird Areas by protected areas

5. EU Habitats Directive: sufficiency of Member State proposals for protected sites

6. Indicator on infra-structural support for designated areas in Europe

7. Status of species and habitats in protected sites under the EU Habitats Directive

8. Indicator on private protected areas in Europe

Eventually, two indicators are being proposed (Nationally designated protected areas and Sites designated sites under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives (a combination of 2 and 5 above)). The other indicators proposed were either not ready (e.g. 6 and 8), not nationally recognised (e.g. 4) or are being covered indicators under other Headline Indicators (e.g. 7).

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

Work description

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT Trends in spatial coverage of proposals for sites designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives: Increased spatial layers and automated collation of data would be advantageous. Sufficiency Index: Improved formalised data flow and implementation of a knowledge management system. Moreover, it could be further investigated if data collected on the Emerald Network ( ) can also be used to upgrade the indicator. It would be interesting to distinguish between marine and terrestrial areas.

Resource needs

No resource needs have been specified


Not started


2099/01/01 00:00:00 GMT+1

Work description


Resource needs

No resource needs have been specified


Not started


2099/01/01 00:00:00 GMT+1

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Katarzyna Biala


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
SEBI 008
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Biodiversity Biodiversity


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Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 5 years


DPSIR: Response
Typology: N/A
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100