1.4.2 Selection of sites within the Atlantic Biogeographical Region


In October 1994 the European Commission Directorate General XI (DGXI) (now DG Environment), the UK Environment Departments and the JNCC jointly organised a meeting of the nine EC Member States with territory in the Atlantic Biogeographical Region. This was the first of a series of meetings for each of the biogeographical regions. Its purpose was to assist Member States in the preparation of their national lists. Agreements were reached concerning the interpretation and application of the Annex III Stage 1 criteria. It was also recognised by all Member States represented at the meeting that consideration of certain of the Stage 2 criteria, particularly those related to the habitat and species diversity of the sites, was relevant during Stage 1 to ensure a proper representation of sites and consistency across the biogeographical region.

A detailed report of this meeting is given by Hopkins & Buck (1995). The agreed conclusions are set out below; the procedures for site selection adopted in the UK are fully consistent with these conclusions.

Provision of information
1. Acknowledging that the quality and extent of information about habitat types and species varies within the Region, Member States will provide information to the Commission in the Natura 2000 data entry form using the best scientific information available at the time according to the format agreed by the Habitats Committee.

Balancing the national lists

2.)  Acknowledging that outstanding single interest sites in terms of quality, extent or range make an important contribution to the Natura 2000 network, special emphasis will be given to identifying and delimiting sites containing complexes of interests on Annexes I and II as valuable ecological functional units.

3. Member States will give significant additional emphasis in number and area to sites containing priority habitat types and species.

4. In considering the degree of representativity of Annex I habitat types on individual sites, Member States will take account of the best examples in extent and quality of the main type (which is most characteristic of the Member State) and its main variants, having regard to geographical range.

5. Acknowledging that sites containing Annex I habitat types and Annex II species at the centre of their range will make an important contribution to Natura 2000, Member States will take responsibility for proposing sites containing habitats and species that are particularly rare in that Member State, with a view to preserving the range.

6. It is acknowledged that certain habitat types and species listed in Annexes I and II are relatively common and extensive in certain Member States. These Member States will have particular responsibility for proposing a proportion of the resource that is sufficient to contribute significantly to the maintenance of the habitat types and species at a favourable conservation status.

7. Where Annex II species' populations are too small to be naturally viable, or where the species occur only as vagrants or reintroductions, Member States may exclude them from consideration for site selection.

8. Artificial areas need not be excluded from site selection if they have spontaneously given rise to Annex I habitat types or host Annex II species and if it is considered that they have exceptional value.

Defining boundaries

9. It is acknowledged that different Member States will have different approaches to the definition of boundaries (e.g. the inclusion of buffer zones within the site), according to the habitat type or species concerned and the legal and management measures necessary to protect and extend the landscape context.