The EU Habitats Directive aims to protect the wild plants, animals and habitats that make up our diverse natural environment.
The directive created a network of protected areas around the European Union of national and international importance. They are called Natura 2000 sites.
These sites include:
- Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) - these support rare, endangered or vulnerable natural habitats, plants and animals (other than birds).
- Special Protection Areas (SPAs) - support significant numbers of wild birds and their habitats.
In the UK, the Habitats Directive is implemented by the Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations (1994), more commonly known as the Habitats Regulations.