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Natura 2000 is an ecological network in the territory of the European Union. In May 1992, governments of the European Union adopted legislation designed to protect the most seriously threatened habitats and species across Europe. Natura 2000 sites form Special Protection Areas identified under the provisions of the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) and Special Areas of Conservation designated under the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC).

The Birds Directive requires the establishment of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for birds. The Habitats Directive similarly requires Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to be designated for other species, and for habitats. Together, SPAs and SACs make up the Natura 2000 sites.

Both directives together constitute the international legal basis and professional framework of European nature conservation. The Directives enforce the principle of sustainable development and other international conventions in the field of biodiversity conservation. The most important among them is the Convention on Biological Diversity, adopted at the 1992 United Nations environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro.

The Natura 2000 network contributes to the "Emerald network" of Areas of Special Conservation Interest (ASCIs) set up under the Bern Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats. Each EU Member State must compile a list of the best wildlife areas containing the habitats and species listed in the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive. This list must then be submitted to the European Commission, after which an evaluation and selection process on European level will take place in order to become a Natura 2000 site. Natura 2000 protects 18% of land in the 15 countries that formed the EU before the expansion in 2004.

The project of the European Union 'Natura 2000' is aimed at preserving sites of internationally important habitats, fauna and flora. According to the uniform criteria, the selected sites in each country form a network, providing the basis of cross-border protection and conservation of natural heritage.

Natura 2000 sites or Special Protection Areas are ecologically important areas in the European Union, important to maintain or achieve a favourable status of birds (Special Protection Areas) and other animal and plant species, their habitats and habitat types (Special Areas of Conservation), whose conservation is of interest to the community.

Natura 2000 is not a system of nature reserves, which would restrict all human activities in these areas. It is a system of protected areas, where the activities should enable the conservation of biodiversity.

LIFE is an instrument in support of the European Commission = environmental support

LIFE is a financial program for the environment and nature protection and is divided as follows:

LIFE-Nature: funds to improve the conservation of habitats and species in the Natura 2000 network, preserving Europe's natural heritage in the sense of the Convention signed in Rio.

LIFE-Environment is to improve and ensure the abiotic environment, i.e. for environmental technologies (clean air, new technologies ...)

LIFE-Nature projects are usually supported by up to 50% of the total, with the exception of projects whose priority targets are habitats. These projects are supported by up to 75%. In 2005, only 54 of the 170 LIFE-Nature projects in 20 EU Member States were selected. They were supported by a total of EUR 60 million.

LIFE-Nature is the only financial instrument of the EU programs for the protection of nature and to support the programs in the Natura 2000 network. Natura 2000 is a merger of areas and regions for the protection of biodiversity. The sites are designated in accordance with the guidelines for the preservation of flora and fauna and the guidelines for the protection of birds; they apply to all EU Member States. Natura 2000 and its networks are part of the European policy of nature conservation and are financially supported by the LIFE program. The condition for the project to be financed by LIFE is that the project is located in the areas declared Natura 2000.


More on Natura 2000 sites at:

EC LIFE Programme
Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment of RS

Natura 2000:
Natura 2000 network

Europa Environment - Nature and Biodiversity

Slovenia and Natura 2000:
Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment of RS, Natura 2000 in Slovenia
Publication on Natura 2000 (in Slovene only)