Natura 2000 ecological network
Protection of areas with the aim of nature conservation
One of the oldest and most effective tools for nature conservation is the selection and legal protection of geographically distinct areas with a view to ensure the conservation of existing biodiversity, geodiversity and/or landscape diversity. Such areas are called protected areas.
Traditionally, nine national protection categories defined in the Nature Protection Act (Official Gazette 80/13, 15/18, 14/19, 127/19) are considered protected areas in Croatia: strict reserve, national park, special reserve, nature park, regional park, natural monument, significant landscape, forest park, and horticultural monument.
In the European Union, protection of areas with the aim of nature conservation is carried out through the Natura 2000 ecological network defined by two directives – the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive. Croatia, like all other EU member states, declared its Natura 2000 ecological network upon accession to the Union.
Today, the Natura 2000 ecological network is the largest network of protected areas in the world and the basis of the nature protection system in the European Union. It covers approximately 1,215,000 km2 in all 27 member states, i.e. 18.5% of total land and almost 9% of the sea of the EU.