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What is Natura 2000 and how is the project involved?

Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right. It stretches across all 27 EU countries, both on land and at sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.

Under the Habitats Directive (Art. 3 and 4), Member States designate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to ensure the favourable conservation status of each habitat type and species throughout their range in the EU. Under the Birds Directive, the network must include Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated for 194 particularly threatened species and all migratory bird species.

In Ireland, the basic designation for wildlife is the Natural Heritage Area (NHA). This is an area considered important for the habitats present or which holds species of plants and animals whose habitat needs protection. Under the Wildlife Amendment Act (2000), NHAs are legally protected from damage from the date they are formally proposed for designation.

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Peatlands and People will be working on a number of sites which are part of Natura 2000. Once final sites have been chosen, this information will be shared here.