Designated areas - 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.