Europe's rich patchwork of protected flora and fauna grew further today with a major extension of Natura 2000, the EU's network of protected natural areas. The additions include 769 new sites and a total area of 95,522 km2. Most of the sites are in the newer Member States. Romania and Bulgaria have now added areas to the network for the first time, including areas along the Black Sea that are home to numerous varieties of rare and threatened plants and animals. Natura 2000 now includes around 25,000 sites, covering almost 20% of the EU’s landmass, making it the largest interconnected network of protected areas in the world. It is the EU's key weapon in the fight against biodiversity loss.