Natura 2000 areas
The European Union aims to halt the loss of biodiversity within its territory. One of the most important means to achieve this goal is the Natura 2000 network.
The network protects the habitats of wild fauna and flora defined in the Habitats Directive. Europe is home to about 200 of such habitats and 700 of such species.
The EU Member States propose sites to be included in the Natura 2000 network under the Habitats Directive. These are known as Sites of Community Importance (SCI). The final decision on inclusion in the network is made by the European Commission. After the decision is made to include a site in the network, the Member State designates the site as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Measures that are important to protect the habitats and species in question are taken on these sites.
The network also includes Special Protection Areas (SPA) pursuant to the Birds Directive. The Member States select these sites and notify the Commission of this.
Natura areas in Finland
The total surface area of lands and waters included in the Natura 2000 network is about five million hectares. Three quarters of this area is land and one quarter is water. The total number of sites is 1,866, of which 87 are in the Åland Islands. The northernmost part of Lapland is considered as Alpine region, while the rest of Finland is part of the boreal region.