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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The island of Gyaros, in the Northern Cyclades island complex at the Aegean Sea of Greece, hosts a rare colony of the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seals and a number of unique marine habitats and species. It is an area that local fishermen consider as appropriate for the creation of a marine protected area (MPA). Gyaros serves as a laboratory for the design, establishment and management of a new MPA.