Directives as the basis of EU nature protection
The Birds and Habitats Directives
The European Union ensures the protection of biodiversity in its territory by the implementation of two directives: the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive. Under these directives, for each species and habitat type that are endangered, vulnerable, rare or endemically significant for the EU, and as such listed in specific annexes to the directives, the member states designate areas necessary for their conservation.
For more than 190 species of European birds, Special Protection Areas (SPA) are designated, while for about 900 species of other animals and plants and over 230 habitat types, Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) are designated.
The selection and legal protection of these areas is based solely on data on the presence of certain species and habitats and a scientific assessment of the significance of an area for their conservation. Together, SPA and SCI/SAC areas form the Natura 2000 ecological network.