Story European Union:Greater protection for Europe's wildlife

European Union:Greater protection for Europe's wildlife

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.

Release date 15/12/2008
Contributor Rania Spyropoulou
Concerned URL

Where are the new sites?Most of the new sites are in Bulgaria, Romania and Poland, and include areas in the Black Sea (Bulgaria and Romania) and the Steppic (Romania) bio-geographical regions.The Black Sea region takes in the Danube delta, which is one of the largest wetlands in Europe and a biodiversity hotspot. It features flowers such as the Fernleaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia), the yellow pheasant's-eye (Adonis volgensis), and 12 globally threatened bird species including the vulnerable Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) and the red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis), one of Europe's rarest geese. The Danube Delta is also an important area for fish, with over 70 recorded species, while the forests harbour rare reptiles such as the meadow viper (Vipera ursinii).Bulgaria has added 252 sites, including the Pirin Mountains, home to diverse plant life such as the Pirin poppy (Papaver pirinica) and the great yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea). It is also rich in wildlife, hosting hazel grouse (Bonasa bonasia), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus).Romania has added 316 sites, including the Macin Mountains in the Steppic region, home to the marbled polecat (Vormela peregusna) and the Romanian hamster (Mesocricetus newtoni). It also features a wide variety of plant species including the rare Moehringia jankae and the Romanian bellflower (Campanula romanica). Poland has added 177 sites, including the Goplo Lake, which hosts 19 different habitat types and is home to the yellow widelip orchid (Liparis Loeselii) as well as birds such as the near-threatened great snipe (Gallinago media) and the bittern (Botaurus stellaris).In the UK, the Humber, Dee and Severn estuaries will receive special conservation status to protect vulnerable wildlife and habitats. These are among the finest estuaries in Europe, presenting a mosaic of coastal habitats. The Commission is planning a further update of the EU lists by the end of 2009.