Copyrights: Έλενα Ερωτοκρίτου
The “Natura 2000” European Ecological Network is a wide European network of protected natural areas for species of flora, fauna, birds and habitats.
It is the cornerstone of EU policy for the protection of the environment and biodiversity and aims to protect and manage vulnerable species and habitats in all their natural area stretching across Europe, regardless of the national or political boundaries.
It is based on the full and effective implementation and enforcement of Directive 1992/43/EC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and Directive 2009/147/EC on the Protection of Wild Birds.
The Natura 2000 network does not prohibit any activities, within its boundaries, being governed by the philosophy that man must coexist with nature. However, projects and activities with expected negative impacts on rare species and habitats, must be avoided in these areas to ensure satisfactory conservation status.
The Natura 2000 network in Cyprus has a total of 63 sites, covering 1,789 km2 including marine and terrestrial areas. Cyprus ranks among the top five EU countries in terms of percentage of land area covered by the Natura 2000 network (28.82%). The network includes 40 Sites of Community Interest (SCI) / Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designated under Habitats Directive (HD) 92/43/ΕEC, covering a terrestrial area of 752 km2 (13.49% of area of Cyprus – EU average is 12.3%) and 131 km² of marine waters, and 30 Special Protection Areas (SPA) designated under Birds Directive (BD) 2009/147/ΕC, covering a terrestrial area of 1,534 km2 (26.7% of area of Cyprus, compared to an EU average of 18.1%) and 110 km² of marine waters. Seven sites are both SCI and SPA (185 km2) with overlapping designation areas. A total of 29 SCIs have been designated as SACs and 7 are still pending designation. A large proportion (60%) of the Natura 2000 area (75% of SCIs) is located within State Forest Land, with 26 sites hosting significant forest areas (i.e. >15% of the site surface is covered by Annex I forest habitat types).
The Natura 2000 forms the cornerstone of biodiversity protection in the EU by helping maintain and restore important habitats and species.
Natura 2000 sites also provide numerous benefits to people which include:
Science for Environment Policy (2015) The Value of Natura 2000 Future Brief 12. Brief produced for the European Commission DG Environment. Bristol: Science Communication Unit, UWE. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/science-environment-policy.