Sites designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: SEBI 008
Created 19 Dec 2017 Published 29 May 2018 Last modified 29 May 2018
6 min read
This indicator shows the current status of implementation of the Habitats (92/43/EEC) and the Birds Directives (79/409/EEC) by EU Member States. It does this by showing trends in spatial coverage of designated Special Protection Areas (SPAs), proposed Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), as well as the net area of the Natura 2000 network.   The net percentage of protected areas helps to evaluate progress towards Aichi Target 11.

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Rationale

Justification for indicator selection

Main advantages of the indicator

  • Policy relevance. The indicator provides direct evidence of the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives, making it highly relevant for Member States and EU nature conservation policy.
  • Measuring progress in implementing actions towards Target 1 of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. More specifically, Action 1a is largely completing the establishment of the Natura 2000 Network, including in the marine environment
  • Assessment of progress compared with Aichi Target 11. This target aims to conserve at least 17 % of terrestrial and inland water areas by 2020.
  • Established mechanism and methodology. Within the EU Member States there are already processes in place for the compilation of information on Natura 2000 sites at both national and regional levels. This indicator is clear and shows growth in total area of the network.

      Scientific references

      • No rationale references available

      Indicator definition

      This indicator shows the current status of implementation of the Habitats (92/43/EEC) and the Birds Directives (79/409/EEC) by EU Member States. It does this by showing trends in spatial coverage of designated Special Protection Areas (SPAs), proposed Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), as well as the net area of the Natura 2000 network.  

      The net percentage of protected areas helps to evaluate progress towards Aichi Target 11.

      Units

      The units used in the indicator are the square kilometre (km2) for area and percent (%).

      Policy context and targets

      Context description

      Context description

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

      The EC Habitats and the Birds Directives aim to conserve natural habitats and wild fauna and flora within the European Union. Member States are required to propose sites for protection of the habitats and species listed in the Annexes to the Directives.

      Under the Birds Directive, Member States designate SPAs. The sites designated under the Habitats Directive include sites and proposed SCIs and SACs. The Natura 2000 network is composed of both SPAs and SCIs.

      The indicator shows the trends in total area covered by SCIs and SPAs as well as the combined Natura 2000 area.

      Targets

      Global Aichi biodiversity target 11:
      By 2020, at least 17 % of terrestrial and inland water areas, and 10 % of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.

      2020 EU biodiversity targets — Target 1: Fully implement the Birds and the Habitats Directives
      Action 1: Complete the establishment of the Natura 2000 network and ensure good management.

      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
      • EU Action Plan for nature, people and the economy
        Following a thorough evaluation of the Birds and Habitats Directives, the European Commission has adopted the Action Plan for nature, people and the economy  to improve their implementation and boost their contribution towards reaching the EU's biodiversity targets for 2020. The Action Plan focuses on four priority areas and comprises 15 actions to be carried out by end 2019. The Plan is complemented by detailed factsheets providing more information on each of the 15 actions. Measures will be taken at EU level, but Member States and stakeholders concerned will also need to act, with increased support and assistance from the European Commission.
      • Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including Aichi Biodiversity Targets
        In decision X/2, the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held from 18 to 29 October 2010, in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, adopted a revised and updated Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, for the 2011-2020 period. This Plan provides an overarching framework on biodiversity, not only for the biodiversity-related conventions, but for the entire United Nations system and all other partners engaged in biodiversity management and policy development.

      Key policy question

      What progress has been made in implementing the Habitats and the Birds Directives?

      Specific policy question

      How does designation of terrestrial Natura 2000 sites compare with the Aichi global biodiversity target 11?

      Methodology

      Methodology for indicator calculation

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

      Member States have been given six years following the adoption of the list of SCIs to develop and enforce the necessary measures to protect and manage identified sites and, in doing so, designate them as SACs or SPAs. The sum of the area (km2) of each site is registered in the annual versions of the GIS Natura 2000 database and grouped per year of proposal/designation.

      The figures relating to the total area of Natura 2000 sites have been obtained through GIS analysis. This avoids any risk of double counting sites that have been designated under both directives. The calculation of the Natura 2000 area is only available from 2011 onwards. From 2005 onwards, the area calculation for SPAs and SCIs is also based on GIS data, but before this date tabular data have been used. 

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

      Methodology for gap filling

      No gap filling is used in this indicator.

      Methodology references

      No methodology references available.

      Data specifications

      EEA data references

      External data references

      Data sources in latest figures

      Uncertainties

      Methodology uncertainty

      No uncertainty has been specified

      Data sets uncertainty

      No uncertainty has been specified

      Rationale uncertainty

      The main disadvantage of this indicator is that it only covers EU Member States.

      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.

      General metadata

      Responsibility and ownership

      EEA Contact Info

      Katarzyna Biala

      Ownership

      European Environment Agency (EEA)

      Identification

      Indicator code
      SEBI 008
      Specification
      Version id: 3

      Frequency of updates

      Updates are scheduled once per year

      Classification

      DPSIR: Response
      Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)

      Related content

      Data references used

      Data used

      Latest figures and vizualizations

      Relevant policy documents

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