Map 6 - Natura Sites

Natura 2000 sites have been designated specifically to protect areas for certain species or habitat types. There are three types of Natura 2000 sites, a special area of conservation (SAC), a site of Community importance (SCI) or a special protection area (SPA). In this work to avoid double counting and as the focus is on the marine, SPAs which are areas protected under the Birds Directive are excluded from the rest of our analysis. The graph below shows that the area protected by SCIs and SACs has increased significantly in the Atlantic Area (AA) member states to protect nearly 550,000 km2 since the implementation of the Habitats Directive in the mid-1990s. While initially, terrestrial habitats were the focus of protection for the AA member states, after the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), progress in establishing marine protected areas (as required by Article 21 of the MSFD) can be seen.
In addition to looking at the area protected by SCIs and SACs overtime for the AA member states, it is possible to view the data spatially. The map below shows the distribution of SCIs and SACs aggregated by NUTS3 regions. The areas with the largest and bluest circles show where the largest areas of marine species and habitats are protected. Also, each NUTS3 region is coloured based on the marine percentage of SCIs and SACs. The Western English Channel immediately is identified as having a relatively large area of the marine protected area, while other regions associated with significant marine protection are off the coast of The Wash in England, North Western Scotland including the Western Isles and the Algarve in Portugal. A corollary of this spatial approach could be to use it to identify regions that are deficient in suitable marine habitats or species requiring protection or deficient in protection.