Natura 2000 is a network of breeding and reproduction sites for rare and endangered species and some and rare natural habitat types that are protected. It covers all 27 EU countries, both on land and at sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed in the Birds and Habitats Directives.
Natura 2000 sites have been specifically designated to protect areas that are critically important for a range of species or habitat types listed in the Habitats and Birds Directives and are considered to be of EU importance because they are endangered, vulnerable, rare, endemic or because they are outstanding examples of features typical of one or more of Europe’s nine biogeographical regions. In total, areas of critical importance for some 2000 species and 230 habitat types are to be designated as Natura 2000 sites.
URCA PROEMYS AND NATURA 2000 SITES
The aim of the project is to improve the conservation status of the bog turtle Emys orbicularis, which is a protected species, included in Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC, and its trade is prohibited by the Berne Convention of 1979. 55 Italian and Slovenian Natura 2000 sites are involved in the project, located in regional parks, state nature reserves, regional nature reserves and other protected areas, with different geographical characteristics. Habitat restoration, restocking activities, eradication of alien species and monitoring are planned at these sites. The partnership includes some management bodies of Natura 2000 sites; this will facilitate the achievement of the results, and in particular the increase in the presence of Emys orbicularis, thanks to the reintroduction and restoration of suitable habitats, capable of sustaining viable populations, even after the end of the project.
Interventions to restore and/or create new habitats will be conducted in at least 30 Natura 2000 sites. As far as restocking is concerned, the selection of punctual sites, within the sites, will also be based on the criteria described in the Integrated Management Plan and the sharing of the following parameters: 1) species habitat and 2) aquatic habitats protected on the basis of the Natura 2000 classification (All. I, Directive 92/43/EEC)
What will be established in the Integrated Management Plan, elaborated within the project, will be applied, from the beginning, in all the Natura 2000 sites (Italian and Slovenian) involved in the project.
The LIFE URCA PROEMYS project is based on a clear conservation strategy of the WWF Oasis system established to monitor species and habitats of Community interest in the Oases belonging to the Natura 2000 network and on an approach consistent with the philosophy of the Natura 2000 network in promoting projects on “target” species or habitats by the different area managers.
Covering over 18% of the European Union’s land area and almost 6% of its marine territory, Natura 2000 is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world and provides a haven for Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.