In Europe, as in the rest of the world, human activities are causing rapid biodiversity loss. Over the last two decades, the EU has been trying to tackle this in various ways, including through the Natura 2000 Network of protected areas. This includes over 27 000 protected areas, covering over million km2, making it the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. The Natura 2000 Network creates a framework for mainstreaming conservation into a range of sectors. The European Commission led the development of the Natura 2000 Network.
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European countries are planning massive investments in renewable energy, which will mean that many more transmission lines will be needed to transport the energy produced. This is essential for reducing carbon emissions, but without careful planning, transmission lines can create a range of risks for biodiversity. The Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) was launched in 2009 as a neutral platform, enabling Transmission System Operators (TSOs) and NGOs from across Europe to come together as equal partners.
Natura 2000 is the world's largest coordinated network of protected areas, established by two pieces of EU environmental legislation: the so-called Birds and Habitats Directives. The Natura 2000 network now comprises over 27000 sites across the 28 EU Member States. It covers over million km², more than 18% of the EU terrestrial area and over 4% of the marine area where EU Member States have national jurisdiction. The EU Birds and Habitats Directives and Natura 2000 are the cornerstone of the EU biodiversity policy and the backbone of its Green Infrastructure.
Protected areas provide multiple socio-economic benefits. However, these benefits are often not assessed and remain unappreciated by decision-makers and the wider public alike. Therefore using public funding to establish and maintain protected areas is often of low priority. Information about the socio-economic benefits of protected areas, such as streams of revenue to local economies from recreation and tourism, can provide valuable support to maintaining and managing protected areas. The United States National Park Service (U.S.