Tag Archives: Protected area

Natural habitats

Natural habitats

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Natural habitats

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Protection of nature and biodiversity

Natural habitats (Natura 2000)

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora [See amending act(s)].

Summary

The continuing deterioration of natural habitats and the threats posed to certain species are one of the main concerns of European Union (EU) environment policy. This Directive, known as the Habitats Directive, is intended to help maintain biodiversity in the Member States by defining a common framework for the conservation of wild plants and animals and habitats of Community interest.

The Habitats Directive established the “Natura 2000” network. This network is the largest ecological network in the world. It comprises special areas of conservation designated by Member States under the current Directive. Furthermore, it also includes special protection areas classified pursuant to the “Wild birds” Directive 2009/147/EC.

Annexes I and II to the Directive contain the types of habitats and species whose conservation requires the designation of special areas of conservation. Some of them are defined as “priority” habitats or species (in danger of disappearing). Annex IV lists animal and plant species in need of particularly strict protection.

Special areas of conservation are designated in three stages. Following the criteria set out in the annexes, each Member State must draw up a list of sites hosting natural habitats and wild fauna and flora. On the basis of the national lists and by agreement with the Member States, the Commission will then adopt a list of sites of Community importance for each of the nine EU biogeographical regions (the Alpine region, the Atlantic region, the Black Sea region, the Boreal region, the Continental region, the Macronesian region, the Mediterranean region, the Pannonian region and the Steppic region). No later than six years after the selection of a site of Community importance, the Member State concerned must designate it as a special area of conservation.

Where the Commission considers that a site which hosts a priority natural habitat type or a priority species has been omitted from a national list, the Directive provides for a bilateral consultation procedure to be initiated between that Member State and the Commission. If the result of the consultation is unsatisfactory, the Commission must forward a proposal to the Council relating to the selection of the site as a site of Community importance.

Member States must take all necessary measures to guarantee the conservation of habitats in special areas of conservation, and to avoid their deterioration and the significant disturbance of species. The Directive provides for co-financing of conservation measures by the Community.

Member States must also:

  • encourage the management of features of the landscape which are essential for the migration, dispersal and genetic exchange of wild species;
  • establish systems of strict protection for those animal and plant species which are particularly threatened (Annex IV) and study the desirability of reintroducing those species in their territory;
  • prohibit the use of non-selective methods of taking, capturing or killing certain animal and plant species (Annex V).

Every six years, Member States must report on the measures they have taken pursuant to the Directive. The Commission must draw up a summary report on the basis thereof.

The annexes to the Directive were amended to take account of the biodiversity of the countries who acceded to the EU in 2004 and 2007. The enlargement brought new challenges for biodiversity, as well as new elements, including three new biogeographical regions (the Black Sea region, the Pannonian region and the Steppic region).

The Natura 2000 network now represents around 18 % of the EU’s terrestrial territory.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 92/43/EEC

10.6.1992

10.6.1992

OJ L 206 of 22.7.1992

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 97/62/EC

29.11.1997

31.12.1997

OJ L 305 of 8.11.1997

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003

20.11.2003

OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Directive 2006/105/EC

1.1.2007

1.1.2007

OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006

The successive amendments and corrections successive to Directive 92/43/EEC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated versionis of documentary value only.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission of 13 July 2009 – Report on the Conservation Status of Habitat Types and Species as required under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive [COM(2009) 358 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This report enabled the implementation of the Habitats Directive for the period 2001-2006 in the 25 Member States to be assessed. The report provides an overview of the biodiversity situation in the EU. It also constitutes a clear point of reference for assessing future trends in the status of its most vulnerable species and habitats.
The results show that favourable conservation status has not been achieved for many habitats and species listed under the Habitats Directive. Certain habitat types (in particular, grassland, wetland and coastal zones) have an overall poor status. Signs of recovery have been observed for certain species (for example, the wolf, Eurasian lynx, beaver and otter). However, further efforts are required to establish healthy and sustainable populations.
The Natura 2000 network must continue to develop; restoration measures for certain sites must be provided. The network and sites will then need to be managed effectively and properly resourced.
Lastly, a large number of Member States do not invest sufficient resources in monitoring the status of species and habitats within their territories. In the absence of reliable data it will be impossible to assess the impact of conservation measures.

Biogeographical regions

In line with the “Habitats Directive”, the Commission must, in agreement with the Member States concerned, draw up a list of sites of European importance for each of the nine biogeographical regions.

List of the Alpine region sites
Decision 2011/62/EU [Official Journal L 33 of 8.2.2011].

List of the Atlantic region sites
Decision 2011/63/EU [Official Journal L 33 of 8.2.2011].

List of the Black Sea region sites
Decision 2009/92/EC [Official Journal L 43 of 13.2.2009].

List of the Boreal region sites
Decision 2011/84/EU [Official Journal L 40 of 12.2.2011].

List of the Continental region sites
Decision 2011/64/EU [Official Journal L 33 of 8.2.2011].

List of the Macronesian region sites
Decision 2009/1001/EC [Official Journal L 344 of 23.12.2009].

List of the Mediterranean region sites
Decision 2011/85/EU [Official Journal L 40 of 12.2.2011].

List of the Pannonian region sites
Decision 2011/86/EU [Official Journal L 40 of 12.2.2011].

List of the Steppic region sites
Decision 2008/966/EC [Official Journal L 344 of 20.12.2008].

Financing Natura 2000

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 15 July 2004 – Financing Natura 2000 [COM(2004) 431– Not published in the Official Journal].
With completion of the Natura 2000 network, the management of designated sites will become the priority measure for protecting biodiversity in the EU. Sufficient funding will be required to ensure that the Natura 2000 network fulfils the objectives that have been set and is adapted to specific local requirements. The Commission considers that the network can bring considerable benefits, both economic (the development of ecosystem services, provision of food and wood products, activities related to the site such as tourism, etc.) and social (more diverse employment opportunities, increased social stability, improved living conditions, safeguarding heritage, etc.). A new Communication on financing Natura 2000 should be adopted by the end of 2011.

Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean

Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Water protection and management

Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean

Acts

Council Decision 77/585/EEC of 25 July 1977 concluding the Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution and the Protocol for the prevention of the pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by dumping from ships and aircraft.

Council Decision 81/420/EEC of 19 May 1981 on the conclusion of the Protocol concerning cooperation in combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by oil and other harmful substances in cases of emergency.

Council Decision 83/101/EEC of 28 February 1983 concluding the Protocol for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution from land-based sources.

Council Decision 84/132/EEC of 1 March 1984 on the conclusion of the Protocol concerning Mediterranean specially protected areas.

Council Decision 2004/575/EC of 29 April 2004 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Protocol to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution, concerning cooperation in preventing pollution from ships and, in cases of emergency, combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea.

Council Decision 2010/631/EU of 13 September 2010 concerning the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean.

Summary

Decision 77/585/EEC enables the Community to accede to the Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution (Barcelona Convention) and the Protocol for the prevention of pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by dumping from ships and aircraft. The purpose of these two instruments, together with the protocols to which the Community has subsequently acceded (by Decisions 81/420/EEC, 83/101/EEC, 84/132/EEC 2004/575/EC and 2010/631/EU), is to limit pollution in the Mediterranean region.

Barcelona Convention

The Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution was adopted in Barcelona on 16 February 1976 and amended on 10 June 1995. Over time, its mandate has been widened to include planning and the integrated management of the coastal region.

The 22 Contracting Parties * to the Convention will individually or jointly take all appropriate measures to protect and improve the Mediterranean marine environment in order to contribute to sustainable development. In order to meet this objective, the Parties undertake to reduce, combat and, as far as possible, eliminate pollution in this area.

The main aims of the Convention consist of:

  • assessing and controlling pollution;
  • carrying out the sustainable management of natural marine and coastal resources;
  • integrating the environment into economic and soci al development;
  • protecting the marine environment and coastal regions through action aimed at preventing and reducing pollution and, as far as possible, eliminating it, whether it is due to activities on land or at sea;
  • protecting natural and cultural heritage;
  • strengthening solidarity between countries bordering the Mediterranean; and
  • contributing to improving quality of life.

The Convention encourages the Parties to:

  • introduce a system of cooperation and information to reduce or eliminate pollution resulting from a critical situation in the Mediterranean;
  • establish a continuous pollution monitoring system;
  • cooperate in the fields of science and technology;
  • work out appropriate procedures for the determination of liability and compensation for damage resulting from pollution deriving from violations of the provisions of the Convention;
  • draft procedures enabling them to monitor application of the Convention.

The Convention lays down mechanisms for the settlement of disputes and for arbitration to settle any disputes between the Parties on the interpretation or application of the Convention.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) carries out secretariat functions in the framework of the implementation of the Convention (convening and preparing meetings, coordination, etc.).

The Convention was amended in 1995. The main amendments concerned:

  • the extension of the Convention’s geographical field of application to the coast;
  • the application of the precautionary principle;
  • the application of the “polluter pays” principle;
  • the promotion of impact assessments;
  • the protection and preservation of biological diversity;
  • combating pollution from cross-border movements of dangerous waste;
  • access to information and public participation.

Protocol for the prevention of pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by dumping from ships and aircraft

The Protocol covers only pollution of the region of the Mediterranean Sea caused by ships and aircraft.

Dumping of certain types of waste and matter (toxic organohalogen and organosilicon compounds, mercury, cadmium, plastics, crude oil, etc.) is prohibited.

Dumping of other matter or types of waste (arsenic, lead, copper, zinc, chrome, nickel, containers, scrap metal, certain types of pesticides, etc.) is subject to the prior issue of a permit by the competent national authorities.

Such permits may be issued only after careful consideration of a number of factors (characteristics and composition of the matter, characteristics of dumping site and method of deposit, general considerations and conditions).

Ships and aircraft used for other than governmental and non-commercial purposes are excluded from the scope of the Protocol.

Since 1995, a number of amendments have been added to the Protocol. These amendments concern, in particular, the clarification of terms defined by the Protocol, waste or other matter authorised for dumping subject to the issue of a special permit, the ban on incineration at sea, and the procedure to follow in the event of a critical and exceptional situation.

Protocol concerning cooperation in combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by oil and other harmful substances in cases of emergency

This Protocol stipulates that the Parties will cooperate when a huge quantity of oil and/or other harmful substances in the Mediterranean Sea, whether accidental or cumulative, presents a serious and imminent danger to the marine environment, the coast or the economic, health or ecological interests of one or more Parties.

This cooperation focuses on drawing up emergency plans, promoting measures for combating oil pollution in the sea, monitoring and exchanging information regarding the state of the Mediterranean Sea, disseminating information on the organisation of resources and on new methods to prevent and combat pollution, and developing research programmes on the subject.

The Protocol requires all Parties facing a critical situation to carry out the necessary, precise evaluations concerning the nature and the size of the accident, take all measures likely to reduce or eliminate the effects of this pollution, and inform other Parties, either directly or through the Regional Centre for the Mediterranean Sea created by the Barcelona Convention, of these evaluations and actions undertaken.

Protocol for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution from land-based sources

The purpose of this Protocol is to combat pollution in the Mediterranean Sea caused by discharges from rivers, outfalls, canals or other watercourses, or pollution emanating from any other source or activity within the territory of the States Party to the Protocol.

The Protocol lists the substances of which discharge is prohibited, and the factors which should be taken into account in order to eliminate pollution from these substances. It also lists substances for which discharge is subject to authorisation by the competent national authorities. This authorisation must take particular account of the characteristics and composition of the waste, the characteristics of the elements in the waste in terms of harmfulness, the characteristics of the place where the waste is discharged and the marine environment it is entering, the techniques available to manage the waste, as well as possible damage to marine ecosystems and its effect on sea water usage.

The Protocol also stipulates cooperation regarding research and information, and the adoption of appropriate programmes, measures and standards aimed at reducing or eliminating the targeted substances.

Since 1996, a number of amendments have been added to the Protocol. These amendments concern, in particular, the application of the precautionary principle, the extension of the scope of the Protocol to airborne pollution of land-based origin, the regulatory system for waste discharge, the continued monitoring of pollution levels, and technical assistance to developing countries.

Protocol concerning specially protected areas and biological diversity in the Mediterranean

The Protocol concerning specially protected areas in the Mediterranean, to which the Community acceded in 1984, protects natural resources in the Mediterranean region, preserves the diversity of the gene pool and protects certain natural sites by creating a series of specially preserved areas.

The Protocol as amended in 1995 makes a distinction between specially protected areas (already provided for in the former Protocol) and specially protected areas of Mediterranean importance. It stipulates that the Parties develop guidelines for establishing and managing protected areas and lists a certain number of appropriate measures which the Parties must adopt, including:

  • prohibiting the discharge or unloading of waste;
  • regulating shipping operations;
  • regulating the introduction of any non-indigenous or genetically modified species;
  • any other measures protecting the ecological and biological processes and the countryside.

Furthermore, it introduces national or local measures which the Parties must take in order to protect animal and plant species throughout the Mediterranean area.

The Protocol also provides for exemptions to be granted because of traditional activities carried out by local populations. However, these exemptions must not compromise the preservation of the protected ecosystems, nor the biological processes making up these ecosystems, nor must they cause the extinction or a substantial fall in numbers of any species or animal or plant populations included within the protected ecosystems.

The annexes to the new Protocol include a list of common criteria which the Parties must respect when choosing which marine and coastal areas are to be protected under the system of specially protected areas of Mediterranean importance. The annexes also list threatened or endangered species as well as including a list of species whose exploitation is regulated.

Protocol concerning cooperation in preventing pollution from ships and, in cases of emergency, combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea

This Protocol updates the legal mechanisms in the Barcelona Convention by incorporating in it measures concerning cooperation between Parties regarding prevention and, in cases of emergency, combating pollution in the Mediterranean caused by ships. It also endeavours to promote the development and implementation of international regulations adopted in the framework of the International Maritime Organization.

Cooperation focuses on maintaining and promoting emergency plans and other means for preventing and combating pollution from ships, adequate monitoring of the Mediterranean Sea, efforts to recover harmful and potentially dangerous substances, as well as disseminating and exchanging information.

The Protocol also stipulates operational measures which the Parties must take in the event of pollution caused by ships (evaluation, elimination/reduction, information measures), as well as emergency measures which must be taken on board ships, in offshore installations and in ports (in particular the availability of and compliance with emergency plans).

Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean

This Protocol, which aims at establishing a common framework for Integrated Coastal Zone Management * (ICZM) in the Mediterranean, entered into force on 24 March 2011. It is the first instrument of international law to be entirely and solely devoted to ICZM.

ICZM has six aims:

  • sustainable development of coastal zones by rational planning of activities;
  • preservation of coastal zones;
  • sustainable use of natural resources;
  • preservation of ecosystems and coastlines;
  • prevention and reduction of natural disasters and climate change;
  • improvement of cooperation.

Furthermore, the Protocol defines the general principles of ICZM, the coordinating procedures required for its implementation, its founding pillars, and the instruments of ICZM.

Key terms of the Act
  • Contracting Parties: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia Herzegovina, Cyprus, the European Community, Croatia, Egypt, Spain, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Monaco, Montenegro, Slovenia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey.
  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management: a dynamic process for the sustainable management and use of coastal zones, taking into account at the same time the fragility of coastal ecosystems and landscapes, the diversity of activities and uses, interactions between the latter, the maritime vocation of some of the latter, and their impact both on land and sea.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 77/585/EEC

25.7.1977

OJ L 240, 19.9.1977

Decision 81/420/EEC

19.5.1981

OJ L 162, 19.6.1981

Decision 83/101/EEC

28.2.1983

OJ L 67, 12.3.1983

Decision 84/132/EEC

1.3.1984

OJ L 68, 10.3.1984

Decision 2004/575/EC

29.4.2004

OJ L 261, 6.8.2004

Decision 2010/631/EU

13.9.2010

OJ L 279, 23.10.2010