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You are here : LIFE & NATURA 2000 > Natura 2000

Programme LIFE NATURA 2000


In 1992, at the "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro, in response to growing concerns about the decline of our natural heritage, the European Union committed to halting the loss of biodiversity on its territory by creating a network of ecological sites, called Natura 2000. With nearly 25,000 site on land and at sea, it is the largest network of protected sites in the world.

The network set up under the "Birds" Directive of 1979 and the "Habitats" Directive of 1992 aims to ensure the long-term survival of species and habitats of special concern, with high stakes for conservation in Europe. It consists of a set of natural sites, terrestrial and marine, identified for rare or fragile species of flora and wildlife and natural habitats they are part of. Natura 2000 reconciles nature conservation and socio-economic concerns.

The European Natura 2000 network includes two types of sites:
* Special Protection Areas ; for the conservation of wild birds listed in Annex I of the "Birds" Directive, that serve as breeding, moulting, wintering or staging areas for migratory birds;
* Special Conservation Areas; for the conservation of types of habitat and plant and animal species listed in Annexes I and II of the "Habitats" Directive.



With the establishment of the Natura 2000 network, Europe has embarked on an ambitious network of ecological sites whose primary purpose is to promote the maintenance of biodiversity, taking into account economic, social, cultural and regional demands, in a sense of sustainable development.



Active participation of all local stakeholders, consultation and dialogue within the steering committees (COPIL) permits the better understanding of both the issues of nature conservation and socio-economic planning, helps to define and share objectives, and ultimately build a nature management plan based on the knowledge of local stakeholders. The definition of the objectives of the site by the steering committee marks the integration of an area into the Natura 2000 network. The COPIL is involved in the preparation, tracking and implementation of objectives.

For each Natura 2000 site, the plan of objectives defines the current state, the issues, management objectives and modalities for their implementation. It is a diagnosis and orientation document, established during meetings held for the development of the document in consultation with local stakeholders, for the management of Natura 2000 sites.



The Natura 2000 approach does not preclude the implementation of development projects and the realization of human activities in Natura 2000 sites, provided they are compatible with the conservation objectives for habitats and species that have justified the designation of the site. The prevention tool is an impact assessment which ensures a balance between biodiversity conservation and human activities.

Bibliography: Website of the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy; Booklet "The essential vocabulary of nature 2000" New Edition, DREAL PACA, January 2010.