Management of NATURA sites

The Habitats and Birds Directives, although adopted at different times, are made up of a similar set of measures designed to safeguard Europe’s most valuable plants, animals and habitats. On the one hand, they protect species in their own right. Thus, the deliberate capture, killing or collection of certain wild plants and animals is strictly prohibited unless for specific well justified reasons, such as public health concerns. Activities, such as hunting and fishing, are also regulated to ensure that they remain sustainable.

On the other, the Directives also protect key areas for these species and habitat types as NATURA 2000 sites. These could be, for instance, important breeding, feeding or resting places for rare birds or areas that still harbour rare habitats like flower-rich meadows or natural forests.

In every NATURA 2000 site management must be done in a way that ensures the continued long-term survival of the species and habitat types for which they are designated. This means that within NATURA 2000 sites:
Damaging activities are avoided that could significantly disturb the species and or deteriorate the habitats for which the site has been selected;
Positive measures are taken, where necessary, to maintain and restore these habitats and species to a ‘favourable conservation status’ in their natural range.

How this is achieved will depend on the specifics of each site. Some sites may be very small, just a few hectares (eg a bog), others may be huge and already protected as a Nature park like the Velebit Mountain, others still may be underground (bat caves) or far out at sea (underwater reefs).

But the majority are likely to form an integral part of our countryside and will still be used by people for farming, forestry, fishing, recreation. Indeed many sites in NATURA 2000 are valuable precisely because of the way they have been managed up to now. In such cases it will be important to ensure that these sorts of activities can continue in the future.

Guidelines for Management Plans