Implementing Natura 2000 in Germany
In 2004 and 2005 the German Länder took great efforts to report additional sites for protection under the Habitats Directive. In 2005, the proportion of sites proposed had risen by around 2.5 percent (not including Lake Constance, marine and inland waters and mudflats) compared with December 2003. In response to a request from the EU Commission, a further 18 SACs and expansion of nine previously proposed sites were reported to Brussels in February 2006. This completes Germany’s contribution to proposing SACs/SCIs for inclusion in the Natura 2000 network of protection areas.
The first deadline for reporting the national list of proposed SCIs (pSCIs) to the EU Commission passed in June 1995 without Germany having proposed a single SAC/SCI to Brussels. The first official site proposals were submitted in 1996, with subsequent proposals following in a number of separate tranches. Due to inadequate reporting of SACs/pSCIs, the EU Commission filed a claim against Germany with the European Court of Justice in 1998/1999. The ECJ announced its ruling against Germany on 11 September 2001. By 2002, the Länder had reported some 3,500 sites, although these were largely assessed as deficient at the pan-European biogeographic seminars. In consequence, Germany submitted a plan to the EU Commission in March 2003 to remedy the deficits identified by the second biogeographic seminar in a phased approach by January 2005. In April 2003, the EU Commission took a second case before the ECJ under Article 228 of the EC Treaty to add weight to its demand for Germany to make key improvements in the deficits identified. At the same time, the EU also stated that it would drop the case involving an official fine if the additional sites were proposed as agreed.
Although the German states adhered to the plan, specific areas (e.g. in the Ems, Elbe and Weser estuaries) were not proposed despite the EU Commission’s demands. This forced the EU Commission to press ahead with the legal proceedings against Germany on 19 December 2005. As a result, the above-mentioned additional sites and areas were reported within the deadline, on 17 February 2006. The Commission subsequently dropped its case against Germany on 13 October 2006.
Areas in Germany Protected under the Habitats and Birds Directives
The coherent Natura 2000 network of protection areas comprises the sites reported under the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive. Overlaps between the two are possible. Together, the 5,266 areas cover 15.4 percent of Germany’s terrestrial surface and 45 percent of its marine waters (as of 2009).
EU-wide, more than 25,000 areas protected under the Habitats and Birds directives cover nearly 18 percent of the territorial surface of all the member states combined (December 2009).
Sites Reported under the Habitats Directive
Distributed across three biogeographic regions (Alpine, Atlantic and Continental), Germany has proposed 4,621 (p)SCIs to Brussels (as of 11 February 2011). The sites reported represent 9.3 percent of the country’s land surface. Added to these come 2,122,161 ha comprising Lake Constance, marine waters, inshore waters and mudflats, and 943,984 ha in Germany’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Sites reported under the Habitats Directive in Germany, pdf (as at 11 February 2011)
Map showing Germany’s sites proposed under the Habitats Directive (incl. EEZ), pdf, in German (as of 2009)
Taking Europe as a whole, the sites reported by member states belonging to the expanded EU (EU27) range between 6.8 percent of the land surface in Great Britain and 31.4 percent in Slovenia (as at December 2009). These represent 13.6 percent of the country´s land area of the EU. The marine waters reported cover a total 13,145,900 ha and are not included in the percentages already stated. The EU Commission’s Natura 2000 Barometer provides an overview of the Natura 2000 sites reported by the EU member states.
Sites Reported under the Birds Directive
Germany has so far reported 738 sites under the Birds Directive (as of 30 September 2010). These represent 11.2 percent of the country’s land area. Added to these come some 1,986,197 ha comprising Lake Constance, marine and inland waters and mudflats, and 513,930 ha in Germany’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Areas in Germany protected under the Birds Directive, pdf (as at 19 May 2011)
Taking Europe as a whole, the sites reported by member states (EUR 27) range between 2.9 percent of the land surface in Ireland and 25.1 percent in Slovakia (as at December 2009). These represent 11 percent of the country´s land area of the EU. The marine waters reported cover a total 9,750,700 ha and are not included in the percentages already stated. The EU Commission’s Natura 2000 Barometer provides an overview of the Natura 2000 sites reported by the EU member states.
Natura 2000 Marine Protected Areas in the EEZ
The revised Federal Nature Conservation Act which entered into force on 4 April 2002 set out the legal requirements for implementing the Natura 2000 network of protection areas within Germany’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ, 12–200 sea miles). The Act assigns responsibility to BfN for selecting Natura 2000 sites in Germany’s EEZ in the North and Baltic seas. Designation of these protected areas is performed by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
At the end of May 2004, Germany submitted its report on Natura 2000 sites in its EEZ to the EU Commission in Brussels. Combined, the ten areas (eight SACs and two SPAs) listed in the report cover around 30 percent of Germany’s marine waters in the Exclusive Economic Zone.
The SPAs in the EEZ were designated by the federal government on 15 September 2005 as nature conservation areas under the Federal Nature Conservation Act.
Habitat Mare Natura 2000 provides additional information on natural habitat types and species, research projects and designation of SACs and SPAs in Germany’s EEZ.
Sites of Community Importance
In accordance with Article 4 (2) and using the procedures set out in Article 21 of the Habitats Directive, the EU Commission draws up a list of sites of Community importance in each biogeographic region.
Compilation of the EU-wide list for the Macaronesian region is complete (Commission decision of 28 December 2001).
The EU Commission adopted a first updated list of sites of Community importance for the Atlantic region on 12 November 2007 and the Continental region on 13 November 2007 and another for the Alpine Region on 25 January 2008. The updated lists include all sites proposed for these regions by Germany except the ‘Unterems und Außenems’ (‘Lower Ems and Outer Ems’) site, for which a national court decision is pending. The updated lists replace ones adopted for the Atlantic and Continental on 7 December 2004 and for the Alpine region on 22 December 2003. Under Article 4 (4) of the Habitats Directive, member states are required to designate sites as special areas of conservation within six years of adoption by the Commission, i.e. by 2010 for sites in the 2004 lists and by 2014 for sites added in the updated lists.