In order to protect its nature, the European Union has established the environmental network called Natura 2000, the largest managed network of protected areas in the world. It covers more than 18% of the terrestrial and approximately 6% of the EU marine territory. It ensures the protection and management of the most endangered plant and animal species. It is a network of breeding and rest areas for rare and endangered species, it extends through all EU countries and is being introduced in the candidate countries. The goal of the Natura 2000 network is to ensure the long-term survival of the most valuable and endangered species and habitats in Europe, listed in the EU Birds Directive and the EU Habitats Directive. The Natura 2000 network includes two types of areas: Special Protection Areas (SPAs), under the EU Birds Directive, and Special Areas of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive.
With time, many places around the world, including Europe, are losing their wilderness and the environment is becoming less natural. The intensive pollution, urbanization and usurpation of areas, the destruction of habitats and ecosystems, the development of transport and energy channels – all of these put huge pressure on nature and living organisms. Protected areas are the last bastions and spaces where wildlife can freely and safely feed, breed, travel, migrate and exist. However, protected areas cannot survive as lonely islands on the territory of Europe, so by creating a network there is a chance for comprehensive and joint protection and management.
The areas that are part of the Natura 2000 network are areas of exceptional environmental and biological importance not only for Europe, but for the entire world. Very often the areas that are important for birds are nesting sites or a place for rest for birds that travel across continents in their migration, which gives the Natura 2000 network a global, not just European significance.