Natura 2000 network further expanded - a good day for salmon, otters and beech forests
The flora and fauna of Europe are now better protected than at any time in the history of the European Union. Natura 2000, the European network of protected natural areas, has been expanded by nearly 27 000 km2. This includes a major addition of marine areas covering more than 17 500 km2 which will increase protection for many endangered marine species. Natura 2000 now covers almost 18% of the EU landmass and more than 130 000 km2 of its seas. The main countries involved in this latest expansion are the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Spain and Poland. Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of the European battle to halt biodiversity loss and safeguard ecosystem services.
The latest update concerns 15 Member States and increases the number of Sites of Community Importance by 739. The recent additions cover six bio-geographical regions – the Alpine, Atlantic, Boreal, Continental, Mediterranean and Pannonian regions. They include 459 new sites in Poland representing a total area of 8 900 km2 including several major freshwater lakes and river systems with their associated floodplains and natural forests. The Czech Republic has added 229 sites. These include key areas of natural beech forests and wildlife rich meadows home to a wealth of fauna and flora.