Stretching over 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 8% of its marine territory, Natura 2000 is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. It offers a haven to Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.
All areas included in the network are shown on the interactive Natura 2000 viewer.
The Natura 2000 network was established to implment both the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds) and the Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora).
The aim of both directives is to ensure survival of species and habitats of EU importance by ensuring a favourable conservation status. Latvia has obligation to achieve the status of the habitat of EU importance when its natural range and areas it covers within that range are stable or increasing, and the specific structure and functions which are necessary for its long-term maintenance exist and are likely to continue to exist for the foreseeable future. In relation to species – the natural range of the species of concern shall not decrease and the population shall be viable.
The establishment of the Natura 2000 network is only one of the means to protect species and habitats, because the directives foresee also protection of species and habitats outside Natura 2000 areas. Some habitat types require regular management, like grazing or mowing grasslands. Thus, nature conservation may live in balance with economic development.
Most of the species and habitats included in both directives were designated as protected in Latvia already before the accession to the EU.