Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of EU nature & biodiversity policy. It is an EUwide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive and1979 Birds Directive. This Directive provides declaration of areas with special protection (eng. Special Protection Areas – SPAs). SPA areas are declared mainly to protect the rarest and most endangered species on a European level, including migratory bird species.
The aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats. The above directives included 230 types of habitat, over 1000 species of plants and animals and over 190 species of birds that are of great importance for Europe and the world.
In Natura 2000 areas is not prohibited to have human activities until those activities do not cause threat to those areas and species. In fact, NATURA areas do not present a strict sanctuary where any activities are prohibited. The selection of these areas is supported by scientific evidence and criteria which helps in protection of those species that are endangered, but are in great importance of environmental chain, and protection of their habitats.
During selection and declaration proceses of areas from NATURA 2000 all Member States and candidates must pass three stages of dialogue with the European Commission. These three phases are:
Phase 1: Preparation of a national inventory of potential areas for ecological network NATURA 2000
Phase 2: Identify areas of importance for the EU (Sites of Community importance-SCIs)
3 stage: Nomination of special protection areas (Special Areas of Conservation-SACs)
NATURA 2000 is a flexible and contemporary, allows sustainable development for man and for nature. In the process of accession to the European Union, Macedonia is obliged to establish a network of “Natura 2000” areas. Under European legislation, the establishment of this network is one of the key points in the process of accession to the European Union.