German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


About Natura 2000

The entry into force of European Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (the 'Habitats Directive') in June 1992 established, for the first time in the European Union, a comprehensive statutory basis for conserving habitats and species.

In addition, the Natura 2000 protected area system became legally binding in Germany through the transposition of the directive into national law in April 1998. The system also includes the sites classified under Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds (the 'Birds Directive').

The Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) designated under the Habitats Directive and the Special Protected Areas (SPAs) classified under the Birds Directive together form the all-EU network of protected sites termed Natura 2000.

The objective of the Habitats Directive is to protect and sustain biological diversity in the territory of the European Union through a system of protected areas designated according to uniform criteria. This proceeds from the understanding that biodiversity conservation cannot be achieved by conserving individual habitats alone, but rather requires integration of a network of habitats that does justice to the different ecological requirements of the species and habitat types to be protected. To this end, annexes to the Directive list habitat types (Annex I) and species (Annex II) the range and presence of which are to be taken as criteria when selecting appropriate protected areas. Protected areas should be selected for Annex 1 of the Birds Directive based on suitability in terms of numbers and size. For regularly occurring migratory species, there is an obligation to take similar measures as regards their breeding, moulting and wintering areas and staging posts along their migration routes.

The goal of creating the Natura 2000 network is to ensure that the overall network safeguards conservation of the species and habitat types listed in the annexes. This implies both maintaining and restoring a "favourable conservation status of natural habitats and species of wild fauna and flora of Community interest". The Birds Directive also requires the re-establishment and creation of habitats.

Alongside the protection of natural habitats and the habitats of species by designating protected areas, other species under the Habitats Directive (Annexes IV and V) and most species under the Birds Directive (exceptions are listed in Annexes II and II) are subject to special species conservation obligations.

Last Change: 02/03/2021