The indicator illustrates the rate of growth in the area of terrestrial protected areas in the EU over time. It also distinguishes between protected areas designated as Natura 2000 sites and protected areas with national designation only.
Methodology for indicator calculation
The data for the nationally designated protected areas inventory are delivered by the Eionet partnership countries as spatial and tabular information. The inventory began in 1995 under the CORINE programme of the European Commission. The dataset is used by the EEA and, among others, the UNEP-WCMC for their main European and global assessments, products and services.
Natura 2000 is based on the 1979 Birds Directive and the 1992 Habitats Directive. The European database of Natura 2000 sites consists of a compilation of the data submitted by the Member States of the European Union. This European database is generally updated once a year to take into account any updating of national databases by Member States. However, the release of a new EU-wide database does not necessarily mean that a particular national dataset has recently been updated.
Nationally designated protected areas (CDDA) and Natura 2000 datasets are merged and dissolved to remove overlapping site designations in the datasets. The same geographical area may be designated several times under different legislation. To reach the net area under protection in the EU, such overlapping designations are removed from the dataset while the source of the designation (national designation vs Natura 2000 designation) is kept.
Methodology for gap filling
No methodology for gap filling has been specified.
- Protected areas in Europe - an overview EEA Report No 5/2012
The establishment of protected areas is a direct response to concerns over biodiversity loss, so an indicator that measures protected area coverage is a valuable indication of commitment to conserving biodiversity and reducing biodiversity loss at a range of levels.
Comprehensive data on officially designated protected areas are regularly compiled and there is international acceptance of the use of the indicator at the global, regional and national scales.
The new EU Biodiversity strategy for 2030 contains specific commitments and actions to be delivered by 2030, including establishing a larger EU-wide network of protected areas on land and at sea, building upon existing Natura 2000 areas, with strict protection for areas of very high biodiversity and climate value.
The key commitments for nature protection in the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 are:
1. Legally protect a minimum of 30% of the EU’s land area and 30% of the EU’s sea area and integrate ecological corridors, as part of a true Trans-European Nature Network.
2. Strictly protect at least a third of the EU’s protected areas, including all remaining EU primary and old-growth forests.
3. Effectively manage all protected areas, defining clear conservation objectives and measures, and monitoring them appropriately.
At global level, conservation of protected areas has been a part of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
Related policy documents
- EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. The European Commission has adopted the new EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and an associated Action Plan (annex) — a comprehensive, ambitious, long-term plan for protecting nature and reversing the degradation of ecosystems. It aims to put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030 with benefits for people, the climate and the planet. It aims to build our societies’ resilience to future threats such as climate change impacts, forest fires, food insecurity or disease outbreaks, including by protecting wildlife and fighting illegal wildlife trade. A core part of the European Green Deal, the Biodiversity Strategy will also support a green recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
No uncertainties have been specified.