Memo/11/806 Brussels, 21 November 2011 Details on the new additions to the Union lists of Natura 2000 sites

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Brussels, 21 November 2011

Details on the new additions to the Union lists of Natura 2000 sites

The latest update of the Natura 2000 lists concerns sixteen Member States: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK. The number of "Sites of Community Importance" has increased by 166 to a total of 22 558, expanding the SCI network by 2.6 % or by nearly 18 800 km².

The latest additions cover six of the EU's nine bio-geographical regions – the Alpine, Atlantic, Boreal, Continental, Mediterranean and Pannonian regions.

This updating round adds a significant area of the EU's marine habitats to the Natura 2000 network, primarily in the Atlantic biogeographic region (the UK, France and Belgium), but also in the Mediterranean (Greece and Cyprus). The terrestrial part of the Natura 2000 network has primarily been increased in Lithuania, Hungary, Cyprus and Italy.

In some Member States (Austria, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden) the update mostly concerns modifications, such as adaptations to site areas or deletions/additions of smaller sites. This has resulted in rather small overall changes to the total area covered by the network in these Member States.

Belgium has further increased the extent of its marine Natura 2000 network, adding 831 km2 to its largest marine site, Vlaamse Banken (now covering 1002 km2). This site extension covered an area with extensive sandbanks, and creates a large continuum with the adjacent French site Bancs des Flandres.

Cyprus added one large site, Chersonisos Akama (179 km2), which includes a marine area covering Posidonia (seagrass) meadows and reefs, but which is also hosts very significant terrestrial habitats for the Mediterranean biogeographic region: Brachypodietalia dune grasslands with annuals, Mediterranean temporary ponds and Arborescent matorral with Juniperus spp. Importantly, this site also holds important nesting sites for two marine turtle species: loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta and green turtle Chelonia mydas.

France has further increased its already large marine Natura 2000 network by adding two further marine sites in the Channel region: Bancs des Flandres (1 129 km2) for sandbanks and Ridens et Dunes Hydrauliques du Detroit du Pas-de-Calais (682 km2) for sandbanks and coldwater reefs.

Greece added two sites, namely the offshore site Vrachonisides Kalogeroi Kai Thalassia Zoni (1,7 km2) for marine reefs, and the coastal site Nisos Gyaros Kai Thalassia Zoni (261 km2), covered by extensive Posidonia (seagrass) meadows and reefs. This latter site also holds an important breeding population of the globally threatened Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus.

Hungary added 10 new sites, including the 22 km2 Liget-legelõ which is home to substantial populations of Pannonian endemics such as Iris aphylla ssp. Hungarica and Pulsatilla pratensis ssp. Hungarica. The additions include the 70 km2 Jászkarajenõi puszták which features Pannonic salt steppes and salt marshes and large numbers of mammal, fish and invertebrate species.

More than 450 km2 of the increase is the result of enlargement of existing sites. This has increased the area coverage of EU priority habitats such as Pannonic salt steppes and salt marshes, Pannonic sand steppes and Euro-Siberian steppic oak woods with Quercus spp. Species that benefit from these site extensions include the Dioszeghyana schmidtii moth, the Carabus hungaricus beetle and the Dianthus diutinus plant.

Italy has added 871 km2 to its already extensive Natura 2000 network, with additions and increases in hundreds of sites in all three of its biogeographic regions. The largest increases are in the Mediterranean region (+ 660 km2), followed by the Continental (+ 185 km2) and the Alpine region (+ 26 km2). The new areas added benefit the conservation of a wide range of species and habitats.

Lithuania has added 140 sites, increasing the total area covered by over 350 km2. Most of the sites added are small, rarely exceeding 1000 ha. However, the sites fill gaps with regard to the geographical coverage of the network for many important species and habitats. The additions contribute to protecting freshwater, grassland and forest habitats, as well as invertebrates, and fishes such as salmon and river lamprey. The coverage of the following EU priority habitat types is also substantially increased: semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates is increased by 219 ha, petrifying springs with tufa formation is increased by 31 ha, Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, and screes and ravines by 573 ha.

The UK has added 13 marine sites in the Atlantic region, both offshore and inshore. These sites cover a total area of 13 913 km2. The two largest sites added are North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef (3 603 km2) and North West Rockall Bank (4 365 km2). Nine of the sites host important cold water reefs, while seven are designated for sandbank habitats.

The six updated lists were adopted on Friday 17 November 2011

For full details of the complete lists with the latest updates see:

For more information about EU nature policy:

For full details about the Natura 2000 network, habitat types, and the Natura 2000 viewer, see

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