To help the Member States protect 30 per cent of the EU’s land and sea by 2030, as it is targeted in the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the European Commission developed criteria and guidance for the identification and designation of additional protected areas in the European Union.
According to the latest press statement of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment, the current network of legally protected areas is not sufficient to safeguard biodiversity at the EU level. Additional designations, on the other hand, will help to complete the Natura 2000 network and expand the national protection schemes.
“We depend on nature and we need to preserve it. Natura 2000 is the backbone of a trans-European nature network, but it needs to be complemented by areas protected at the national level”, emphasised Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius.
“Our guidance gives Member States tools to help them identify, designate and manage additional protected areas. We will continue working together to put Europe’s nature on a path to recovery by 2030, for the benefit of our planet and our economy”, he added.
The document also provides a definition of strict protection and guidance to the Member States on establishing appropriate management and monitoring for the existing as well as future protected areas.
Enlarging protected areas is also an economic imperative, as nature provides multiple ecosystem services such as food provision, water filtration, air purification, carbon storage, recreation and resilience to extreme weather events. The ecosystem services provided by the Natura 2000 network alone have been estimated at up to 300 billion euros a year. The investment needs of the network are expected to support some 500,000 additional jobs.