«August 2014»

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Building the Natura 2000 network

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Natura 2000 is a European network of important ecological sites. Member States are required to propose sites to protect the habitat types listed in Annex I and the species listed in Annex II as Sites of Community Importance (SCI) , and if accepted by the procedure described in the Habitats Directive (EEC/92/43) adopted in 1992, designate these sites as Special Areas (SAC). The SAC together with Special Protection Areas (SPAs), designated under the Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) signed in 2009, form the Natura 2000 network. The 2009 Birds Directive replaces the 1979 version of the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC), Annex VII of the 2009 Directive gives a correlation table between the 1979 Directive and the 2009 Directive.

The ETC/BD assists the Commission in analysing the proposals of each 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

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