The ‘umbrella effect’ of Natura 2000
Driven by a general inquiry into the effectiveness of the Nature Directives and the EU strategic target within the Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, the European Commission initiated a research project (in 2015) to assess the wider contribution of Natura 2000 to the conservation of species that are not in the annexes to the Nature Directives.
Using large data files containing distribution information on mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and plant varieties across the European Union, WER (Alterra) researchers led a team from Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to demonstrate the crucial importance of the network for all groups of species investigated, especially for birds, butterflies and plants. This is the so-called ‘umbrella effect’ of Natura 2000.
Approximately 35% to 40% of the populations of threatened species investigated were found to occur within the Natura 2000 areas. While this may seem a small number, the fact that only 18% of the surface area of the European Union is designated as Natura 2000 area highlights that this is a relatively high amount.
In conclusion, the Natura 2000 network is of crucial importance for the protection of biodiversity. Not only for the species covered in the Birds and Habitats Directives for which the areas were designated, but also for many other threatened and non-threatened European species of flora and fauna.
The complete report and the executive summary can be downloaded here.