It is now possible to view the Natura 2000 dataset through the DG Environment Natura 2000 viewer.
Natura 2000 is a European network of important ecological sites underpinned by the Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) and the Habitats Directive (EEC/92/43). In compliance with Art.4 of the Birds Directive, EU Member States are required to designate Special Protection Areas (SPAs) to protect bird species listed in Annex I of the Directive as well as migratory species. In compliance with Art.3 and 4 of the Habitats Directive, Member States have to first propose Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) for habitat-types listed in Annex I and species listed in Annex II of the Directive. They further have to designate them as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). SPAs and SCIs-SACs form the Natura 2000 network.
ETC/BD support to the European Commission in the implementation of the Natura 2000 network mainly focuses on the Habitats Directive component of the network. The ETC/BD assists the European Commission in analysing SCIs proposals by Member State and building the Union List of SCIs. The Member States send their proposals to DG Environment (the Nature and Biodiversity section) via their permanent representatives using an agreed format-the Standard Data Form.
The database is then forwarded to the European Environment Agency (EEA) to check the quality and completeness of the data. A report listing any technical problems (e.g. empty fields) is sent to the relevant Member State and they are asked to correct the information by updating and/or completing the database.
Using the Natura 2000 database the ETC/BD prepares "Union lists of pSCI” for each biogeographical region following the process described in Annex III Stage 2 of the Habitats Directive. The evaluation process is described in more detail in the following document published by DG Environment (Hab. 97/2 rev. 4 18/11/97). The list of selected sites, priority characteristics, Community Importance, areas and co-ordinates of each site, is validated by each Member State within the relevant biogeographical region and published as a Commission decision in the Official Journal.
The contribution of the proposed sites to the conservation status of each habitat type and species is then evaluated at the biogeographical level. The ETC/BD prepares a set of draft conclusions regarding the sufficiency of the contribution of the proposed sites to the conservation status which are then discussed in a Biogeographical seminar between the Commission, Member States and other interested parties including Non Governmental Organisations (NGO).
The document published by DG Environment (Hab. 97/2 rev. 4 18/11/97) provides instructions to focus the discussions during the biogeographical seminars. Seminars are held for each biogeographical region. DG Environment chairs the discussions during the seminar while the ETC/BD provides a scientific evaluation of the sufficiency of the proposed sites. In practice the discussions are framed by two working documents