Natura 2000 and the Protection of Wilderness in Europe
In Kees Bastmeijer (ed.), Wilderness Protection in Europe. The Role of International, European and National Law, Cambridge University Press, 2016, 177-198
17 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2018
Date Written: April 2016
The Natura 2000 network has been established under the European Union’s Birds Directive (1979) and Habitats Directive (1992). Article 3(1) of the Habitats Directive describes it as a ‘coherent European ecological network of special areas of conservation.’ The central aim of Natura 2000 and other imperatives of the Habitats Directive is ‘to maintain or restore, at favourable conservation status, natural habitats and species of wild fauna and flora of Community interest’(Art. 2(2). In its resolution on ‘Wilderness in Europe’ of 3 February 2009, the European Parliament ‘[c]alls on the Commission to ensure that the Natura 2000 network will be strengthened further to become a coherent and functioning ecological network in which wilderness areas have a central place.’ This is an interesting request as it presupposes the compatibility of wilderness protection with the Natura 2000 regime, an issues that has been regularly questioned in the European context. Accordingly, this publication explores the extent to which wilderness areas within the European Union and their wilderness qualities receive legal protection under the Natura 2000 system. The discussions result from a desk-study based on a review of the directives, case law of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU/ECJ), guidance documents of the European Commission and the literature. It should be noted that the discussions take a legal perspective; practical experiences with wilderness management in Natura 2000 areas are described elsewhere. The discussions build on a comprehensive introduction to the concept of wilderness in the first chapter of the book.
Keywords: wilderness, Natura 2000, biodiversity, nature conservation, primary forest, protected areas
JEL Classification: K10, K32, K33, Q20, Q23, Q24, Q26
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