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Sites designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-147-en
Also known as: SEBI 008
Created 23 Feb 2015 Published 10 Apr 2015 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
Topics: ,
Since 2002, there has been a steady increase in the cumulative area of the Natura 2000 network. Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) increased in coverage from 450 000 to 810 000 square kilometres and Special Protected Areas (SPAs) increased from approximately 180 000 to 670 000 square kilometres. Ten countries have designated more than 20% of their territory.

Key messages

Since 2002, there has been a steady increase in the cumulative area of the Natura 2000 network. Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) increased in coverage from 450 000 to 810 000 square kilometres and Special Protected Areas (SPAs) increased from approximately 180 000 to 670 000 square kilometres. Ten countries have designated more than 20% of their territory.

What progress has there been in the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives?

Trend for Sites of Community Importance by area

Note: This figure includes terrestrial and marine Sites of Community Interest (SCIs). The area and percentage of territory corresponds to the area of Cyprus where the Community acquis applies at present, according to protocol 10 of the Accession Treaty of Cyprus.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Trend of Special Protected Areas by area

Note: The figure includes terrestrial and marine Special Protected Areas (SPAs). The area and percentage of territory corresponds to the area of Cyprus where the Community acquis apllies at present, according to protocol 10 of the Accession Treaty of Cyprus.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Under the Habitats Directive, each Member State shall contribute to the creation of Natura 2000 by designating sites in proportion to the natural habitat types and habitats of species of European interest represented within its territory.

At EU-28 level, around 13% of the terrestrial territory is designated under the Birds Directive, while under the Habitats Directive the figure is around 14%. Many sites are designated under both directives and 18% of the terrestrial territory is designated for both.

Since 2002, there has been a steady increase in the cumulative area of the Natura 2000 network. Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) increased in coverage from 450 000 to 810 000 square kilometres and Special Protected Areas (SPAs) increased from approximately 180 000 to 670 000 square kilometres (Figures 1 and 2). These increases occurred due to the fact that 10 new countries joined the EU in 2004, followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007 and Croatia in 2013. A better designation of marine areas also explained this trend (251 000 square kilometres in 2013). Another factor was new designations of protected areas made by the Member States, particularly under the Birds Directive.

As of December 2013, ten Member States had designated more than 20% of their territory as Natura 2000 sites: Slovenia (37.9%); Croatia (36.5%); Bulgaria (34.3%); Slovakia (29.6%); Cyprus (28.4%); Spain (27.2%); Greece (27.1%); Romania (22.6%); Hungary (21.4%); and Portugal (20.6%) (EC, 2014).


 

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

This 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 these proposals.

Units

square kilometre


Policy context and targets

Context description

The establishment of designated sites under the Habitats and Birds Directives is a direct response to concerns over biodiversity loss. An indicator on the increase in coverage of these sites is a valuable indication of commitment to conserving biodiversity and reducing its loss.

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

The EC Habitats and Birds Directives 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 indicator shows the trends in total area covered by Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) and in Special Protected Areas (SPAs).

Relation of the indicator to the focal area

EU action relevant to the expansion of network of protected areas 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). Commitments made under the CBD have been carried forward into the EU's Sixth Environment Action Programme, and maintain 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 necessary measures to protect and manage identified sites and, in doing so, designate them as special areas for conservation or protected areas.

Upon the adoption of the 2020 EU Biodiversity Strategy, with its six targets, the indicator is particularly relevant to EU Target 1 on Nature.

Targets

2020 EU biodiversity targets - Target 1

Related policy documents

  • EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy
    in the Communication: Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 (COM(2011) 244) the European Commission has adopted a new strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. There are six main targets, and 20 actions to help Europe reach its goal. The six targets cover: - Full implementation of EU nature legislation to protect biodiversity - Better protection for ecosystems, and more use of green infrastructure - More sustainable agriculture and forestry - Better management of fish stocks - Tighter controls on invasive alien species - A bigger EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

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

The sum of the area (km2) of each site is registered in the annual versions of the Natura 2000 database and grouped per year of proposal/designation.

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

Sufficiency Index

For each biogeographical region, seminars, which gather Member State representatives of the region and scientific experts, are organised by the European Commission and the EEA European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity. The goal of the seminars is to assess whether each of the Annexe I and II habitats and species occurring in the region are 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 biogeographical 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 biogeographical region
n = number of biogeographical regions within a Member State
habi = number of Annex I habitats sufficiently represented for 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

N/A

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

MAIN DISADVANTAGES OF THE INDICATOR

  • 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 biogeographical seminars mentioned earlier.

 

ANALYSIS OF OPTIONS

Initially, eight 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; and

8. Indicator on private protected areas in Europe.

In the end, two indicators are proposed: Nationally designated protected areas and designated sites under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives (a combination of numbers 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 under other Headline Indicators (e.g. 7).

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

Biodiversity Biodiversity (Primary topic)

Tags:
habitats | protected areas | biodiversity | species | natura2000
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)
Indicator codes
  • SEBI 008
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1995-2013
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Katarzyna Biala

EEA Management Plan

2015 1.7.4 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100