The EU has the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world, known as Natura 2000, consisting of around 27 000 terrestrial and marine sites protected under the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive (known as “the Nature Directives”). In addition, EU Member States have protected large portions of their territory under national protection schemes.
Cyprus is among the top five EU countries in terms of land area covered by the Natura 2000 network.
According to a press release on the occasion of Natura2000 Day, celebrated May 21, in 2021, around 1.1 million km² of the EU Member States’ land area was designated for the preservation of biodiversity as Natura 2000 sites or nationally protected sites. This represents over a quarter (26%) of the total EU land area.
The highest share of protected land area in Luxembourg, lowest in Finland
In 2021,protected areas represented 20% or more of the total land area in 20 of the 27 EU Member States, with the highest shares recorded in Luxembourg (52%), Bulgaria and Slovenia (both 41%).
In contrast, the lowest shares of protected areas were observed in Finland (13%), Ireland and Sweden (both 14%).
Environmental degradation is an existential threat to Europe and the world, which is why the European Green Deal is one of the 6 European Commission priorities for 2019 – 24.