Category Archives: Natura2000

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Life and Natura 2000 now 30 years old

The LIFE Programme and Natura 2000 have reached the age of 30.

On 21 May 1992, the then European Economic Community passed two laws that would forever change the face of nature conservation, the Habitats Directive and the LIFE Regulation, which established the LIFE Programme. The Habitats Directive also established the Europe-wide ecological network of protected areas called Natura 2000.

The LIFE Programme has co-financed conservation actions on more than 6 000 Natura 2000 sites –roughly 20% of the entire network. It has also doubled the size of the marine Natura 2000 network over the past five years. €3 billion has been spent on 1 800 nature and biodiversity projects. LIFE projects have safeguarded some 750 species. Also, LIFE has purchased around 200 000 hectares of land across the EU – this land is protected indefinitely.newsletter-cover

30 years on, Natura 2000 forms the backbone of EU nature conservation policy. It is the world’s largest coordinated network of legally protected areas and covers 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 9% of its sea area. Natura 2000 is vital for the successful implementation of the European Green Deal.

The Natura 2000 Newsletter is published twice a year, provides up to date information on activities, events and initiatives on the EU’s biodiversity policy and the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives.

The newsletter is free and is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Polish both in pdf format and in printed version. Subscribe to the newsletter

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Natura 2000 network biodiversity maps for Spanish regions

The Natura 2000 protected area network is the EU’s flagship biodiversity
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Stretching over 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 8% of its marine territory, Natura 2000 is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. It offers a haven to Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.

Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right. It stretches across all EU countries, both on land and at sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.

A Natura 2000 Viewer has been developed as an online tool that presents all Natura 2000 sites. It provides key information on designated species and habitats, data on population sizes and information on conservation status. The viewer can be used for general purposes or for more specific searches.Leon maps

A research study focused on the autonomous communities (regions) of Andalucía and Castillia y León in Spain. It was based on the Spanish National Biodiversity Inventory, which uses a grid made up of 10-kilometre squares to record species presence across the country.

Data was  also gathered from the Corine Land Cover inventory, public administrations’ cartographic information of the protected areas under the EU’s Habitats Directive, and all the protected species from the Habitats and Birds Directives and critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable species from the National Catalogue of Endangered Species, to produce a value of importance for biodiversity (VIB) score for every grid square.

The maps were then used to construct four different scenarios for levels of protected-area networks.

Find out more about the study and how the VIB was calculated and the results of the research – Download the research paper

Download the network proposal research paper

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GEOLAND Handbook : Technical Annex available

method diagramThe GEOLAND Project recently published, in partner languages, an Educational Handbook for monitoring European Landscape.  To complement this document a Technical Annex has been produced to provide details of the five methodological stages important for Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) by using GIS and public participation.

The five stages are:

i) Purpose definition
ii) Desk-based data collection
iii) Field-based data collection
iv) Classification and
v) Overall evaluation

They are dealt with in detail, offering information, advised, resources and tools to carry out a Landscape Character Assessment on Natura 2000 or other sites of interest.

Examples of site selection, desk-based collected datasets, approaches for field study and landscape character recognition are provided.

Monitoring and protecting the Landscape is a crucial environmental goal. The handbook and technical annex will help to enable the uptake of novel ways to engage and empower students in environmental science and other disciplines and stimulate participatory decision-making. GEOLAND highlights the fact that students and, in general, citizens can in fact have a real impact in environmental monitoring and landscape management.

Download the GEOLAND Technical Annex

The Annex is also available in partner languages-  Bulgarian, Dutch, Greek, Spanish

Educational Handbook published

The vision of the GEOLAND project is to establish and promote the effective participation of Higher Education (HE) institutions in monitoring actions leading to influencing decision-making for the implementation of the European Landscape Convention (ELC).handbook cover image

With this in mind the project has published an Educational Handbook with state-of-the-art information and materials on learning and teaching perspectives, methodologies including citizen science, and Landscape Character Assessment related to the European Landscape Convention.

The Educational Handbook can be downloaded in English, Bulgarian, Dutch, Greek and Spanish, from https://www.geolandproject.eu/outputs/

A Technical Annex to the Handbook will shortly follow with examples, advice and guidance on the teaching and learning of the five methodological stages for Landscape Character Assessment.

Download a leaflet about the project

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Ghent University students test a new landscape assessment observation sheet

As part of the GeoLand project students of Ghent University geography department went beginning May 2022 on a terrain study at the Damvallei, an area near Ghent with a variety of values and land uses, but also registered as Natura 2000 sites.

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The area is an old meander of the Scheldt river near Ghent, cut into four by two motorways and because of its proximity to the city with a multitude of space users.

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Nevertheless, a large part is still very valuable biologically (green to dark green), so that parts of it became a Natura 2000 area (orange areas on the map).

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The GeoLand project wants to involve higher education students in the study and appreciation of these landscapes. As a first step, the students did a reconnaissance by investigating different cells within the area grid.

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They used a research sheet developed by Prof. Van Eetvelde (UGent).
Download the Observation Sheet

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The next step will be to map all the collected information on a GIS platform.

Find out more about the GeoLand project 

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European Natura 2000 day

Did you know that in 2017, 21st May was declared as the “European Natura 2000 day”?

The GeoLand Project seeks to establish a learning path for Higher Education students and their professors so that they are able to apply their geospatial analysis and knowledge in decision-making for landscape management, planning and protection of NATURA 2000 sites across Europe.

30 years ago, in 1992, the European Union adopted the EU Habitats Directive and the LIFE programme. This pioneering piece of legislation gave birth to the EU wide Natura 2000 Network, the world’s largest coordinated network of protected areas.

natura 2000 logoThe Natura 2000 network consists of Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and Marine Protected Areas around Europe. Today, Natura 2000 consists of more than 27,800 sites across the EU‘s land and seas. The Network stretches over 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 9% of its marine territory and protects our unique natural heritage.

The European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council Presidency and the Committee of the Regions made the decision to establish Nature 2000 Day in order to highlight how significant it is to raise public awareness and realise that it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure a well-preserved natural heritage.

Natura 2000 Day aims to make European citizens more aware of the natural riches the Natura 2000 network holds, of the conservation work they carry out and of the benefits brought by the protected nature to people and to our planet.

Download the eNatura2000 mobile AppeNatura app image

If you cannot join the Natura 2000 Day celebrations in person this year, don’t worry. Learning about Natura 2000 and connecting with the sites managers and other nature professionals has never been so easy! With the eNatura2000 mobile app, all that is just a click away.

Get timely updates from the Natura 2000 world, read inspiring case studies, network and discuss with land managers across Europe. You can download the app on Google Play and the App Store!

Follow the link to find out about the events which are organised throughout Europe to celebrate and promote the Natura 2000 Network. https://www.life-25.eu/

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NATURA 2000 and cultural heritage

The NATURA 2000 network is a European ecological network of sites which are home to significant natural habitats and species at a European level. It is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world and its aim is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats .

There has been an increasing acknowledgement of the links between the natural and built cultural heritage. As a result, a number of case studies have been created by the European Commission in order to point out the successful integrated management of natural and cultural heritage at Natura 2000 sites. Examples of the use of farmland

Moreover, it has become obvious that these links need to be strengthened and common threats and challenges explored as well as opportunities for joint initiatives. Visit the Commission Web pagenatura seminar image

It is often difficult to make the distinction between nature and culture, particularly as we look to the past. Nature and culture tend to be tightly interconnected in forms such as storytelling with the oral tradition being an important means of conveying this relationship.

Community engagement is necessary to ensure that heritage is well aligned with community needs, identify and perceptions. This is particularly important for less tangible aspects of heritage.

Explore the European Commission presentation on integrated management 

Subscribe to the Natura 2000 newsletter to stay up-to-date on relevant events and initiatives.

Getting familiar with NATURA 2000 in Bulgaria

Natura 2000 is described as a pan-European network of protected areas aimed at ensuring the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and endangered species and habitats in accordance with national and international agreements in the field of environmental protection and biodiversity. This suggests that indeed this network should spread all across the old continent. This news article examines those in Bulgaria.

Natura 2000 has become so important that it has been an official prerequisite for future member states who wish to join the European union. For Bulgaria, the process of creating the Natura 2000 ecological network began in 2002 (5 years prior Bulgaria’s accession in the EU) with the adoption of the National Biodiversity Act (BDA), which introduces the norms of the two European directives related to NATURA 2000: The Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora and the 2009/147/EC Directive on the conservation of wild birds.

Following the BDA, Bulgaria managed to list the protected areas and have them declared in the country as part of the National Ecological Network: places on land and water, that meet the requirements for the presence of important for biodiversity plants and animal species, and types of natural habitats included in the EU directives mentioned earlier.

The Natura 2000 Protected zones in Bulgaria are estimated to be 34.8% of its territory, twice the EU average, making Bulgaria the third in EU when it comes to protected areas share. Currently, the network of protected areas includes:

  • 120 protected areas for protection of wild birds, covering 23.1% of the territory of Bulgaria;
  • 233 protected areas for protection of natural habitats, covering 30.3% of the territory of Bulgaria

The Natura 2000 network database for Bulgaria is publicly available online. The website allows you to filter a search by name, site code, type of protected species, habitats, place (e.g. a specific city or municipality). Here are some of the most well-known Bulgarian Natura 2000 sites we wanted to share with you.

Atanasovsko lake – the lake is known for its habitat of protected species: out of the 400 bird species which can be seen all over Bulgaria, 316 species are found here and 14 of them are globally endangered. In addition, 83 bird species are included in the Red Book of Bulgaria, and 170 species are of European natural protection significance. The lake is located north-east of the city of Burgas and in the past it was exploited for salt extraction. The salterns had existed since 1906. What’s intriguing about the Atanasovsko Lake is that it does not freeze during the winter, which turns the lake into a center of the hibernating water birds. If you are interested in learning more about the Atansovsko lake, you may do so by reading the official NATURA 2000 data form available in English and check out the following video tour for a more interactive experience.

– Rila – the highest mountain range in Bulgaria with an area of 2629 km² where 779.27 km² are included within the Natura 2000 network. It includes 24 types of habitats. Rila National Park is the most significant territory in presence in the country of high-mountain glacial lakes and lake biota of glacial type. The total importance of natural resource and the richness of the habitats is 11% of the European ones. The habitats include 192 vertebrates species and 2934 species and sub-species invertebrate fauna, 312 out which are rare. The Rila mountains are the highest in the Balkan peninsula with its highest peak Musala reaching 2925 m. The Rila is also home to a number of tourist attractions of high interest like The 7 Rila lakes, The Rila Monastery (also part of the UNESCO heritage), the Rilska Skakavitza waterfall and many other.

Rila lake imagesource: Bulgaria Travel

To find out more about the Rila mountains, read the official NATURA 2000 data form available in English here or by reading the information available at this specialised eco-tourism web site.

Kompleks Kaliakra -Kaliakra is one of the most well-known Bulgarian Black sea nature and archaeological reserve. It expands over 687.5 decares with wild steppes and beautiful coastal rocks. Within the territory of Kaliakra,  can be found more than 400 plant species, while 310 kinds of birds live on the territory of Kaliakra and 100 of them require special measures for preservation of their habitats. 106 of these bird species are protected at European level. The marine area east of Cape Kaliakra – Tulenovo is a fish habitat including a migratory corridor to spawning grounds in the Danube River and a region for the nurturing and growth of juvenile fish and spawning stock after the breeding. The region is the richest of lime steppe habitats as well as coastal cliffs habitats and coastal cave habitats in Bulgaria. Kaliakra is also a place of historical significance (first settlements are estimated at around 4th century B.C.) and a very popular tourist destination. If you are interested in learning more about Kompleks Kaliakra, you may do so by reading the official NATURA 2000 data form available in English here or reading the following article about the area.

Kaliakra aerial photosource: Bulgaria Travel

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First GEOLAND Project Newsletter Published

Partners in the GEOLAND Project have published their first newsletter. GEOLAND focuses on Digital Educational Geoinformatic Methodologies for Monitoring Landscape. The newsletter contains stories about  the presentation of the GEOLAND project in the Technology Forum of Thessaloniki (Greece), the Manifesto on the future of European landscape, introducing the NATURA 2000 sites, the first project meeting in Crete and the use of GIS in schools in Bulgaria.

Read and subscribe to the newsletter

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Natura 2000 and Cultural Heritage

NATURA 2000 network is a European ecological network of sites which are home todolina image significant natural habitats and species at a European level. It is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world and its aim is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats. Visit the Natura 2000 Web site

However, there has also been the acknowledgement of the links between the natural and built cultural heritage. As a result, a number of case studies were conducted in order to point out the successful integrated management of natural and cultural heritage at Natura 2000 sites. Moreover, it has become obvious that these links need to strengthen and explore common threats and challenges as well as opportunities for joint initiatives.

Subscribe to Natura 2000 newsletter to stay up-to-date on relevant events and initiatives.