Europe Protects 5,000 Sites in the Northern Woodlands

BRUSSELS, Belgium, January 17, 2005 - The European network of sites protecting threatened and vulnerable species and habitats was expanded today to include thousands of locations in the boreal, or northern, woodlands.

The European Commission adopted the list of Natura 2000 sites which covers the main parts of Finland and Sweden. Norway is not included as it is not a member of the European Union.

Species and sites under Natura 2000 benefit from increased protection through a number of safeguards which must be respected.


The increasingly rare spruce forest (Photo courtesy Earth Observation)
The list includes over 5,000 sites providing protection for species such as the lynx, the flying squirrel and fairy slipper, and for habitats such as Western Taiga, raised bogs and aapa mires, as well as freshwater and land upheaval coast habitats.

Among the protected types of lands are wooded dunes, woodland bogs, Baltic islets and small islands, Atlantic salt meadows, large shallow inlets and bays, and reefs.

The Boreal region is one of six bio-geographic regions in EU-15 and the fifth for which the Commission has adopted a list.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said, “Natura 2000 is central to meeting the EU's objective of halting the decline of biodiversity by 2010. Its completion is now well on its way after the adoption of the EU list of protected sites for the Boreal region."

This list of protected areas includes a large number of endangered animal and plant species and habitats, such as the lynx and the ringed seal, the flat bark beetle, the field sagewort, the pendantgrass, the fairy slipper and the Western Lapland buttercup as well as various types of forests, rocky habitats and caves, raised bogs and aapa mires, freshwater and land upheaval coast habitats, coastal sand dunes.


The bear, Ursos arctos, is endangered in Sweden and in Finland. (Photo courtesy
The protection of these species and habitats is scientifically considered to be of European importance. A joint EU effort is viewed as necessary to ensure biodiversity and the conservation of natural animals and plants in this region of Europe.

The Natura 2000 network is set up under the EU’s Habitats Directive of 1992 to safeguard Europe’s most important wildlife areas and species. As part of Natura 2000, the selected areas benefit from increased protection.

Member states must take all the necessary measures to guarantee their conservation and avoid their deterioration. Not all economic activity in the sites is excluded, but member states must ensure that such activities are carried out in a way which is compatible with the conservation of the habitats and species living there.

The next step towards the completion on the Natura 2000 network will be the adoption of one more list of sites for EU-15: the EU Mediterranean bio-geographical region.

After that the main focus will shift to the establishment of the Natura 2000 network in the 10 new member states. At the same time, the Commission will pay increased attention to the proper management of the network.

For more information on the adopted lists - decision text and annexes, overview maps see: