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Natura 2000 Network

In terms of functionality, Natura 2000 Network is a consistent ecological network created in order to preserve natural habitats and important species within the European Community. The obligation to create such a network of protected areas results from the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity accepted in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992 (so-called Rio Convention). The legal basis for Natura 2000 Network has been stipulated in two legal acts: Directive2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds, called the Birds Directive and Council Directive on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, called a Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992). The regulations provide for establishment of areas linked with ecological corridors i.e. fragments of landscape managed in a way that fosters migration, dissemination and exchange of genetic pool of species. The network is intended to preserve biological diversity through the protection of not only the most valuable and rare elements of nature but also the most typical and still widely common ecosystems characteristic for biogeographical regions (e.g. the Alpine, Atlantic or the Continental region). The obligations bind all the EU Member States but they are relatively free to choose the way the network will be managed and protected.

Nature 2000 Network encompasses:

Special Protection Areas of birds – SPA are the sites established according to the EU regulations for the protection of population of wild birds of one or more species, where the birds enjoy favourable conditions throughout their entire lifecycle, at any stage of their growth.

Special Areas of Conservation of habitats – SAC (Site of Community Importance – SCI) are sites established according to the EU regulations for the preservation of natural habitats or populations of endangered plant and animal species or for the purpose of restoration of a proper condition of natural habitats or proper condition of protection of these species. SCI areas are approved by the European Commission by decision, but have not yet been designated an act of national law (Regulation of the Minister of the environment, establishing the SAC).

Natura 2000 sites may overlap other conservation forms. A Natura 2000 site is established, and its borders may be changed, the site may be deleted by the virtue of an ordinance of a minister for environmental issues in consultation with a minister for agricultural issues, a minister competent for development of rural areas and minister responsible for water management issues.

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