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Natura 2000 Network

LIFE Programme

LIFE is the European Commission’s financial instrument exclusively dedicated to supporting environmental and nature conservation projects. The acronym LIFE comes from the name in French: L'Instrument Financier de l'Environment. The program was launched in 1992, and in 2007 it became the LIFE+ Program.

The protection of the environment is a key element for the EU’s sustainable development, and therefore is a priority for community co-financing. The projects financed by LIFE+ must contribute to the specific objectives of its three theme environments: Nature and Biodiversity, Environmental Governance Policies, and Information and Communication.

INDEMARES is a LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity project whose objective has been to contribute to the application of the Birds and Habitats Directives, focusing on the habitats and species listed in the annexes of both directives.

Given the extremely wide biodiversity in Spain, which is one of the largest in the EU representing around the 50%, it is one of the main beneficiaries of these funds.

It is important to highlight that in 2007, the LIFE+ Program has exceptionally enabled financing of scientific studies in the INDEMARES project. This will permit Spain to fulfill it’s commitment with the community policies and the obligation to designate Natura 2000 Network marine areas.

Natura 2000 network

The Natura 2000 Network is a European ecologic network of biodiversity conservation areas to assure the long-term survival of Europe’s most endangered species and habitats.

Natura 2000 consists of Sites of Community Interest (SCI) declared by the Member States in accordance with the Habitats Directive of 1992, and Special Protected Areas for Birds (SPA), which are designated in accordance with the Birds Directive of 1979. Likewise, within 6 years of the declaration of a SCI, the Habitats Directive foresees its final designation as a Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). The need for Member States to designate Natura 2000 sites is an important contribution to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which includes the obligation to create a network of protected marine areas by 2012.

The declaration of Natura 2000 zones and the subsequent approval of their management plans is aimed at regulating the different activities, improving the functionality of the ecosystems, conserving the biodiversity and, therefore, ensuring the conservation and sustainability of the natural resources, both now and in the future, guaranteeing that future generations will be able to enjoy our natural environment in the same way as we do. 

Appropriate management of the Natura 2000 Network areas can increase the value of the products and services within a specific zone and can therefore improve the use and productivity of the sectors associated with the marine environment, like fishing and tourism.

INDEMARES has helped establish a Natura 2000 network in the marine environment that is the most extensive and scientifically best defined in Europe and whose management plans will have a wide social consensus, thus serving as an example for other countries. Furthermore, this effort does not stop here. The future of this network needs to ensure the good conservation status of the natural values by regulating the human activities compatible with these objectives. To this end, it is essential to manage the Natura 2000 network at sea by employing innovative measures and the effort of the whole society.