The indicator illustrates the changes in the share of terrestrial protected areas in the EU-27 land over time. It also distinguishes between protected areas designated as Natura 2000 sites or Emerald sites and other national designations.
A protected area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed through legal or other effective means to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.
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 Natura 2000 network 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.
The same geographical area may be designated several times under different legislation. When producing area statistics on protected areas, nationally designated protected areas and Natura 2000 datasets are overlayed to avoid double counting of overlapping site designations in the datasets. The Reporting guidelines with full details on the methodology are available from: http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/help/cdda and https://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/help/natura2000/
The indicator is a headline indicator for monitoring progress towards the 8th Environment Action Programme (8th EAP). It contributes mainly to the monitoring of the 8th EAP biodiversity-related priority objective Article 2.e that shall be met by 2030: ‘protecting, preserving and restoring marine and terrestrial biodiversity and the biodiversity of inland waters inside and outside protected areas by, inter alia, halting and reversing biodiversity loss and improving the state of ecosystems and their functions and the services they provide, and by improving the state of the environment, in particular air, water and soil, as well as by combating desertification and soil degradation’. The European Commission Communication on the 8th EAP monitoring framework specifies that this indicator should monitor progress towards the target to ‘legally protect at least 30 % of the EU’s land area … by 2030’.
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 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 the global level, new targets for protected areas have recently been adopted as part of the Kunming-Montreal Global biodiversity framework, including a target to effectively conserve and manage at least 30% of the world’s terrestrial areas.
No uncertainty has been specified.