Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, and in particular Article 130s thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the Commission ,
Having regard to the opinion of the European Parliament ,
Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee ,
Whereas the preservation, protection and improvement of the quality of the environment, including the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, are an essential objective of general interest pursued by the Community, as stated in Article 130r of the Treaty;
Whereas the European Community policy and action programme on the environment (1987 to 1992) makes provision for measures regarding the conservation of nature and natural resources;
Whereas, the main aim of this Directive being to promote the maintenance of biodiversity, taking account of economic, social, cultural and regional requirements, this Directive makes a contribution to the general objective of sustainable development;
Whereas the maintenance of such biodiversity may in certain cases require the maintenance, or indeed the encouragement, of human activities;
Whereas, in the European territory of the Member States, natural habitats are continuing to deteriorate and an increasing number of wild species are seriously threatened; whereas given that the threatened habitats and species form part of the Community's natural heritage and the threats to them are often of a transboundary nature, it is necessary to take measures at Community level in order to conserve them;
Whereas, in view of the threats to certain types of natural habitat and certain species, it is necessary to define them as having priority in order to favour the early implementation of measures to conserve them;
Whereas, in order to ensure the restoration or maintenance of natural habitats and species of Community interest at a favourable conservation status, it is necessary to designate special areas of conservation in order to create a coherent European ecological network according to a specified timetable;
Whereas all the areas designated, including those classified now or in the future as special protection areas pursuant to Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds, will have to be incorporated into the coherent European ecological network;
Whereas it is appropriate, in each area designated, to implement the necessary measures having regard to the conservation objectives pursued;
Whereas sites eligible for designation as special areas of conservation are proposed by the Member States but whereas a procedure must nevertheless be laid down to allow the designation in exceptional cases of a site which has not been proposed by a Member State but which the Community considers essential for either the maintenance or the survival of a priority natural habitat type or a priority species;
Whereas an appropriate assessment must be made of any plan or programme likely to have a significant effect on the conservation objectives of a site which has been designated or is designated in future;
Whereas it is recognised that the adoption of measures intended to promote the conservation of priority natural habitats and priority species of Community interest is a common responsibility of all Member States; whereas this may, however, impose an excessive financial burden on certain Member States given, on the one hand, the uneven distribution of such habitats and species throughout the Community and, on the other hand, the fact that the 'polluter pays' principle can have only limited application in the special case of nature conservation;
Whereas it is therefore agreed that, in this exceptional case, a contribution by means of Community co-financing should be provided for within the limits of the resources made available under the Community's decisions;
Whereas land-use planning and development policies should encourage the management of features of the landscape which are of major importance for wild fauna and flora;
Whereas a system should be set up for surveillance of the conservation status of the natural habitats and species covered by this Directive;
Whereas a general system of protection is required for certain species of flora and fauna to complement Directive 79/409/EEC;
Whereas provision should be made for management measures for certain species, if their conservation status so warrants, including the prohibition of certain means of capture or killing, whilst providing for the possibility of derogation's on certain conditions;
Whereas, with the aim of ensuring that the implementation of this Directive is monitored, the Commission will periodically prepare a composite report based, inter alia, on the information sent to it by the Member States regarding the application of national provisions adopted under this Directive;
Whereas the improvement of scientific and technical knowledge is essential for the implementation of this Directive;
Whereas it is consequently appropriate to encourage the necessary research and scientific work;
Whereas technical and scientific progress mean that it must be possible to adapt the Annexes; whereas a procedure should be established whereby the Council can amend the Annexes;
Whereas a regulatory committee should be set up to assist the Commission in the implementation of this Directive and in particular when decisions on Community co-financing are taken;
Whereas provision should be made for supplementary measures governing the reintroduction of certain native species of fauna and flora and the possible introduction of non-native species;
Whereas education and general information relating to the objectives of this Directive are essential for ensuring its effective implementation,
HAS ADOPTED THIS DIRECTIVE:
For the purpose of this Directive:
(a) conservation means a series of measures required to maintain or restore the natural habitats and the populations of species of wild fauna and flora at a favourable status as defined in (e) and (i);
(b) natural habitats means terrestrial or aquatic areas distinguished by geographic, abiotic and biotic features, whether entirely natural or semi-natural;
(c) natural habitat types of Community interest means those which, within the territory referred to in Article 2:
(i) are in danger of disappearance in their natural range;
(ii) have a small natural range following their regression or by reason of their intrinsically restricted area;
(iii) present outstanding examples of typical characteristics of one or more of the six following biogeographical regions: Alpine, Atlantic, Boreal, Continental, Macaronesian and Mediterranean.
Such habitat types are listed or may be listed in Annex I;
(d) priority natural habitat types means natural habitat types in danger of disappearance, which are present on the territory referred to in Article 2 and for the conservation of which the Community has particular responsibility in view of the proportion of their natural range which falls within the territory referred to in Article 2; these priority natural habitat types are indicated by an asterisk (*) in Annex I;
(e) conservation status of a natural habitat means the sum of the influences acting on a natural habitat and its typical species that may affect its long-term natural distribution, structure and functions as well as the long-term survival of its typical species within the territory referred to in Article 2.
The conservation status of a natural habitat will be taken as 'favourable' when:
- its natural range and areas it covers within that range are stable or increasing, and
- the specific structure and functions which are necessary for its long-term maintenance exist and are likely to continue to exist for the foreseeable future, and
- the conservation status of its typical species is favourable as defined in (i);
(f) habitat of a species means an environment defined by specific abiotic and biotic factors, in which the species lives at any stage of its biological cycle;
(g) species of Community interest means species which, within the territory referred to in Article 2, are:
(i) endangered, except those species whose natural range is marginal in that territory and which are not endangered or vulnerable in the western palearctic region; or
(ii) vulnerable, i.e. believed likely to move into the endangered category in the near future if the causal factors continue operating; or
(iii) rare, i.e. with small populations that are not at present endangered or vulnerable, but are at risk. The species are located within restricted geographical areas or are thinly scattered over a more extensive range; or
(iv) endemic and requiring particular attention by reason of the specific nature of their habitat and/or the potential impact of their exploitation on their habitat and/or the potential impact of their exploitation on their conservation status.
Such species are listed or may be listed in Annex II and/or Annex IV or V;
(h) priority species means species referred to in (g) (i) for the conservation of which the Community has particular responsibility in view of the proportion of their natural range which falls within the territory referred to in Article 2; these priority species are indicated by an asterisk (*) in Annex II;
(i) conservation status of a species means the sum of the influences acting on the species concerned that may affect the long-term distribution and abundance of its populations within the territory referred to in Article 2;
The conservation status will be taken as 'favourable' when:
- population dynamics data on the species concerned indicate that it is maintaining itself on a long-term basis as a viable component of its natural habitats, and
- the natural range of the species is neither being reduced nor is likely to be reduced for the foreseeable future, and
- there is, and will probably continue to be, a sufficiently large habitat to maintain its populations on a long-term basis;
(j) site means a geographically defined area whose extent is clearly delineated;
(k) site of Community importance means a site which, in the biogeographical region or regions to which is belongs, contributes significantly to the maintenance or restoration at a favourable conservation status of a natural habitat type in Annex I or of a species in Annex II and may also contribute significantly to the coherence of Natura 2000 referred to in Article 3, and/or contributes significantly to the maintenance of biological diversity within the biogeographic region or regions concerned.
For animal species ranging over wide areas, sites of Community importance shall correspond to the places within the natural range of such species which present the physical or biological factors essential to their life and reproduction;
(l) special area of conservation means a site of Community importance designated by the Member States through a statutory, administrative and/or contractual act where the necessary conservation measures are applied for the maintenance or restoration, at a favourable conservation status, of the natural habitats and/or the populations of the species for which the site is designated;
(m) specimen means any animal or plant, whether alive or dead, of the species listed in Annex IV and Annex V, any part or derivative thereof, as well as any other goods which appear, from an accompanying document, the packaging or a mark or label, or from any other circumstances, to be parts or derivatives of animals or plants of those species;
(n) the committee means the committee set up pursuant to Article 20.
The Natura 2000 network shall include the special protection areas classified by the Member States pursuant to Directive 79/409/EEC.
The list shall be transmitted to the Commission, within three years of the notification of this Directive, together with information on each site. That information shall include a map of the site, its name, location, extent and the data resulting from application of the criteria specified in Annex III (Stage 1) provided in a format established by the Commission in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 21.
Member States whose sites hosting one or more priority natural habitat types and priority species represent more than 5 % of their national territory may, in agreement with the Commission, request that the criteria listed in Annex III (Stage 2) be applied more flexibly in selecting all the sites of Community importance in their territory.
The list of sites selected as sites of Community importance, identifying those which host one or more priority natural habitat types or priority species, shall be adopted by the Commission in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 21.
Where the site concerned hosts a priority natural habitat type and/or a priority species, the only considerations which may be raised are those relating to human health or public safety, to beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment or, further to an opinion from the Commission, to other imperative reasons of overriding public interest.
Obligations arising under Article 6 (2), (3) and (4) of this Directive shall replace any obligations arising under the first sentence of Article 4 (4) of Directive 79/409/EEC in respect of areas classified pursuant to Article 4 (1) or similarly recognised under Article 4 (2) thereof, as from the date of implementation of this Directive or the date of classification or recognition by a Member State under Directive 79/409/EEC, where the latter date is later.
The Commission, acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 21, shall periodically review the contribution of Natura 2000 towards achievement of the objectives set out in Article 2 and 3. In this context, a special area of conservation may be considered for declassification where this is warranted by natural developments noted as a result of the surveillance provided for in Article 11.
Member States shall endeavour, where they consider it necessary, in their land-use planning and development policies and, in particular, with a view to improving the ecological coherence of the Natura 2000 network, to encourage the management of features of the landscape which are of major importance for wild fauna and flora.
Such features are those which, by virtue of their linear and continuous structure (such as rivers with their banks or the traditional systems for marking field boundaries) or their function as stepping stones (such as ponds or small woods), are essential for the migration, dispersal and genetic exchange of wild species.
Member States shall undertake surveillance of the conservation status of the natural habitats and species referred to in Article 2 with particular regard to priority natural habitat types and priority species.
(a) all forms of deliberate capture or killing of specimens of these species in the wild;
(b) deliberate disturbance of these species, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing, hibernation and migration;
(c) deliberate destruction or taking of eggs from the wild;
(d) deterioration or destruction of breeding sites or resting places.
- Member States shall take the requisite measures to establish a system of strict protection for the plant species listed in Annex IV (b), prohibiting:
(a) the deliberate picking, collecting, cutting, uprooting or destruction of such plants in their natural range in the wild;
(b) the keeping, transport and sale or exchange and offering for sale or exchange of specimens of such species taken in the wild, except for those taken legally before this Directive is implemented.
- The prohibitions referred to in paragraph 1 (a) and (b) shall apply to all stages of the biological cycle of the plants to which this Article applies.
- If, in the light of the surveillance provided for in Article 11, Member States deem it necessary, they shall take measures to ensure that the taking in the wild of specimens of species of wild fauna and flora listed in Annex V as well as their exploitation is compatible with their being maintained at a favourable conservation status.
- Where such measures are deemed necessary, they shall include continuation of the surveillance provided for in Article 11. Such measures may also include in particular:
- regulations regarding access to certain property,
- temporary or local prohibition of the taking of specimens in the wild and exploitation of certain populations,
- regulation of the periods and/or methods of taking specimens,
- application, when specimens are taken, of hunting and fishing rules which take account of the conservation of such populations,
- establishment of a system of licences for taking specimens or of quotas,
- regulation of the purchase, sale, offering for sale, keeping for sale or transport for sale of specimens,
- breeding in captivity of animal species as well as artificial propagation of plant species, under strictly controlled conditions, with a view to reducing the taking of specimens of the wild,
- assessment of the effect of the measures adopted.
In respect of the capture or killing of species of wild fauna listed in Annex V (a) and in cases where, in accordance with Article 16, derogation's are applied to the taking, capture or killing of species listed in Annex IV (a), Member States shall prohibit the use of all indiscriminate means capable of causing local disappearance of, or serious disturbance to, populations of such species, and in particular:
(a) use of the means of capture and killing listed in Annex VI (a);
(b) any form of capture and killing from the modes of transport referred to in Annex VI (b).
- Provided that there is no satisfactory alternative and the derogation is not detrimental to the maintenance of the populations of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural range, Member States may derogate from the provisions of Articles 12, 13, 14 and 15 (a) and (b):
(a) in the interest of protecting wild fauna and flora and conserving natural habitats;
(b) to prevent serious damage, in particular to crops, livestock, forests, fisheries and water and other types of property;
(c) in the interests of public health and public safety, or for other imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment;
(d) for the purpose of research and education, of repopulating and re-introducing these species and for the breeding operations necessary for these purposes, including the artificial propagation of plants;
(e) to allow, under strictly supervised conditions, on a selective basis and to a limited extent, the taking or keeping of certain specimens of the species listed in Annex IV in limited numbers specified by the competent national authorities.
- Member States shall forward to the Commission every two years a report in accordance with the format established by the Committee on the derogation's applied under paragraph 1. The Commission shall give its opinion on these derogation's within a maximum time limit of 12 months following receipt of the report and shall give an account to the Committee.
- The reports shall specify:
(a) the species which are subject to the derogation's and the reason for the derogation, including the nature of the risk, with, if appropriate, a reference to alternatives rejected and scientific data used;
(b) the means, devices or methods authorised for the capture or killing of animal species and the reasons for their use;
(c) the circumstances of when and where such derogation's are granted;
(d) the authority empowered to declare and check that the required conditions obtain and to decide what means, devices or methods may be used, within what limits and by what agencies, and which persons are to carry but the task;
(e) the supervisory measures used and the results obtained.
- Every six years from the date of expiry of the period laid down in Article 23, Member States shall draw up a report on the implementation of the measures taken under this Directive. This report shall include in particular information concerning the conservation measures referred to in Article 6 (1) as well as evaluation of the impact of those measures on the conservation status of the natural habitat types of Annex I and the species in Annex II and the main results of the surveillance referred to in Article 11. The report, in accordance with the format established by the committee, shall be forwarded to the Commission and made accessible to the public.
- The Commission shall prepare a composite report based on the reports referred to in paragraph 1. This report shall include an appropriate evaluation of the progress achieved and, in particular, of the contribution of Natura 2000 to the achievement of the objectives set out in Article 3. A draft of the part of the report covering the information supplied by a Member State shall be forwarded to the Member State in question for verification. After submission to the committee, the final version of the report shall be published by the Commission, not later than two years after receipt of the reports referred to in paragraph 1, and shall be forwarded to the Member States, the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee.
- Member States may mark areas designated under this Directive by means of Community notices designed for that purpose by the committee.
- Member States and the Commission shall encourage the necessary research and scientific work having regard to the objectives set out in Article 2 and the obligation referred to in Article 11. They shall exchange information for the purposes of proper co-ordination of research carried out at Member State and at Community level.
- Particular attention shall be paid to scientific work necessary for the implementation of Articles 4 and 10, and transboundary co-operative research between Member States shall be encouraged.
Procedure for amending the Annexes
Such amendments as are necessary for adapting Annexes I, II, III, V and VI to technical and scientific progress shall be adopted by the Council acting by qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission.
Such amendments as are necessary for adapting Annex IV to technical and scientific progress shall be adopted by the Council acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission.
The Commission shall be assisted by a committee consisting of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission.
- The representative of the Commission shall submit to the committee a draft of the measures to be taken. The committee shall deliver its opinion on the draft within a time limit which the Chairman may lay down according to the urgency of the matter. The opinion shall be delivered by the majority laid down in Article 148 (2) of the Treaty in the case of decisions which the Council is required to adopt on a proposal from the Commission. The votes of the representatives of the Member States within the committee shall be weighted in the manner set out in that Article. The Chairman shall not vote.
- The Commission shall adopt the measures envisaged if they are in accordance with the opinion of the committee.
If the measures envisaged are not in accordance with the opinion of the committee, or if no opinion is delivered, the Commission shall, without delay, submit to the Council a proposal relating to the measures to be taken. The Council shall act by a qualified majority.
If, on the expiry of three months from the date of referral to the Council, the Council has not acted, the proposed measures shall be adopted by the Commission.
In implementing the provisions of this Directive, Member States shall:
(a) study the desirability of re-introducing species in Annex IV that are native to their territory where this might contribute to their conservation, provided that an investigation, also taking into account experience in other Member States or elsewhere, has established that such re-introduction contributes effectively to re-establishing these species at a favourable conservation status and that it takes place only after proper consultation of the public concerned;
(b) ensure that the deliberate introduction into the wild of any species which is not native to their territory is regulated so as not to prejudice natural habitats within their natural range or the wild native fauna and flora and, if they consider it necessary, prohibit such introduction. The results of the assessment undertaken shall be forwarded to the committee for information;
(c) promote education and general information on the need to protect species of wild fauna and flora and to conserve their habitats and natural habitats.
- Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive within two years of its notification. They shall forthwith inform the Commission thereof.
- When Member States adopt such measures, they shall contain a reference to this Directive or be accompanied by such reference on the occasion of their official publication. The methods of making such a reference shall be laid down by the Member States.
- Member States shall communicate to the Commission the main provisions of national law which they adopt in the field covered by this Directive.
This Directive is addressed to the Member States.
Done at Brussels, 21 May 1992.
For the Council
Arlindo MARQUES CUNHA