Nature and Society


Dealing with conflicts in the implementation and management of the Natura 2000 Network

Best practices at the local/site level

The Natura 2000 Network of protected areas consists of sites designated under the Community Birds (79/409/EEC) and Habitats Directives (COM/88/0381), and is a key pillar of Community action for the conservation of biodiversity.

Currently the development phase of Natura 2000 is such that the attention of all parties involved – policymakers, site managers, researchers, landowners, local communities, different economic sectors (e.g. tourism, recreation, water, transport, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries) – has turned to the challenges of implementation and management.

The European Commission recognizes that successful implementation of Natura 2000 will require the active commitment and support of many stakeholders in Europe, ranging from land users and landowners to those involved in financing and dedicating resources to biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. This project contributed to achieving the Commission's objectives.

The overall objective of the project was to promote best practices for achieving an appropriate balance between potentially conflicting interests and uses of Natura 2000 sites in order to ensure both the engagement of the population and the respect of the ecological value of the sites.

The project involved three main tasks: 
  • Review of current practices
    The current situation regarding conflicts at site level was assessed, based on a review of current practices, in terms of who is involved in using Natura 2000 sites, what conflicts could be distinguished, what caused them, and how stakeholders were involved.
  • Description of 20 best practice case studies
    Twenty best practice case studies were selected and reported on. They were considered to be representative of best practice with regard to the management approaches taken to reconcile the different uses of the sites.
  • Recommendations for future actions to promote best practices
    Recommendations in a report to the European Commission were formulated based on the results of the review report, the best practices, and four workshops (one European level workshop and three regional workshops). A plan was developed for dissemination of the project results to the relevant audiences.

Time frame
The project ran from January 2009 to June 2010.


This project was led by Alterra, in partnership with ECNC and Eurosite. ECNC’s role in this project was to organize and facilitate four workshops and to develop recommendations in a report to the European Commission.


This project was funded by the European Commission.