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Commission offers advice on how to designate more protected areas

Commission offers advice on how to designate more protected areas

The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 aims to protect 30% of EU land, sea and water by 2030. Protecting a third of these areas, which are areas of high biodiversity or climate value, should not be allowed. To assist Member States in achieving these targets and to develop a coherent, transnational network of protected areas, the Commission created criteria and guidance for the designation and identification of additional protected zones.

Virginijus, Commissioner of the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Sinkeviius said:

We are dependent on nature and must protect it. Natura 2000 forms the backbone of a transeuropean nature network. However, it needs to be supplemented with protected areas at the national level. Our guidance gives Member States the tools to identify, designate, and manage additional protected areas. We will continue to work together to get Europe’s nature back on track by 2030 for the benefit both of our planet, and our economy.

The current network of legally-protected areas is not sufficient to protect biodiversity at EU level. Additional designations will be needed to complete the Natura 2000 network, and expand national protection schemes. All protected areas should have clearly defined conservation objectives. The Biodiversity Strategy targets are applicable to the EU in its entirety. Each Member State must contribute to the effort based upon objective ecological criteria, recognising the fact that each country has a unique quantity and quality.

The guidance document defines a set of criteria that Member States could use to identify additional protected zones. It also establishes an approach through which pledges by Member States for new designations can be discussed, peer-reviewed and improved so that the EU’s 2030 targets can be achieved. It also defines strict protection and gives guidance to Member States about how to establish appropriate management and monitoring of existing and future protected zones.

Expanding protected areas is an economic imperative. Nature provides multiple ecosystem services, including food provision, water filtration, air purification, carbon storage, recreation, and resilience to extreme weather events. The ecosystem services provided annually by the Natura 2000 network have been valued at 300 billion euros. The network’s investment needs are estimated to support approximately 500,000 people. Additional jobs.


The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030The European Green Deal outlines ambitious EU actions to prevent biodiversity loss in Europe, and globally, and was adopted in May 2020.

The Strategy aims to put Europe’s biodiversity on the road to recovery by 2030. It also aims to ensure that all world’s ecosystems are resilient and adequately protected by 2050. The Biodiversity Strategy has one objective: to establish a coherent network for protected areas. The Strategy sets legal protection targets for at least 30% of EU land and 30% of EU sea areas. It also sets goals to protect at least one-third of EU’s protected areas. By 2030, all protected areas must be effectively managed and monitored.

See Also

This guidance document was created in collaboration with the European Environment Agency. It is the result of a year-long discussion with representatives from Member States and stakeholder organizations.

For more information

EU nature policy

EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030

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