Natura 2000 Ecological Network
The Natura 2000 Ecological Network is a coherent European ecological network comprising areas with natural habitat types and wild flora and fauna, which are deemed to be of European interest; it enables the conservation or, when necessary, restoration to a favourable conservation status of certain natural habitat types and species across their entire natural range.
Following the establishment of the Ecological Network, two European Union directives were incorporated into the legal system of the Republic of Croatia: the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive, which constitute the core of the EU nature protection legislation. These two directives set ambitious high standards of nature protection for all EU member states.
The ecological network of the Republic of Croatia (Natura 2000 network) consists in conservation areas significant for birds, conservation areas significant for species and habitat types, possible conservation areas significant for species and habitat types and special areas of conservation significant for species and habitat types.
The ecological network represents the implementation of EU legislation: Directive on the conservation of wild birds (Council Directive 79/409/EEC; 2009/147/EC) and Directive on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (Council Directive 92/43/EEC). In Croatia the ecological network is regulated by the Nature Protection Act (OG 80/13, 15/18, 14/19, 127/19) and is established by the Regulation on Ecological Network and the Competence of Public Institutions for Management of the Areas of Ecological Network (OG 80/19).
The objective of managing the Natura 2000 Ecological Network areas is to maintain and improve a favourable conservation status for all the habitat types and species they protect across their entire range. Often this can be achieved without imposing major restrictions, through the implementation of conservation measures by people who, in coexistence with nature, share their living space with threatened species and habitats. Most activities and interventions within the Natura areas can be carried out with measures to mitigate possible negative consequences. Sometimes only minor adaptations are needed. Proposals for major development projects or land use changes should be assessed in terms of acceptability for the ecological network. If the assessment process yields evidence that an intervention does not have a significant negative impact, the intervention is allowed within the ecological network area. Natura 2000 supports the principle of sustainable development and its goal is not to halt the overall development activities, but, on the contrary, to set the criteria for them in order to be carried out, while preserving biodiversity.
The basic way of managing the ecological network areas is to develop a management plan in cooperation with local stakeholders. This plan defines necessary measures and activities for the conservation of targeted species and habitat types as well as the ecological integrity of the area.
Management plans are often designed for areas that are already protected by some legal acts pertaining to nature protection, while being managed by the competent public institutions. Smaller areas can be entrusted to the owners or users and often to associations that are willing to implement the necessary measures. When it comes to larger areas, it is possible to combine different mechanisms, while providing systematic coordination.
An overview map of the Natura 2000 Ecological Network areas with significant species and habitats is shown on the cartographic presentation and is available on the pages of the Nature Protection Information System:
In addition to the protected areas, a large portion of the valuable natural heritage of the Šibenik-Knin County is included in the European Ecological Network Natura 2000.
The Public Institution Nature manages nearly sixty Natura 2000 Ecological Network areas in the Šibenik-Knin County. The following are the ecological network areas within the County, managed by the Public Institution Nature of the Šibenik-Knin County: