The Habitats Directive (together with the birds Directive) forms an integral part of the European conservation policy. The Natura 2000 network of protected sites and the strict system of species protection form the two pillars that the directive is built around. The directive protects 1000 animals and plant species and around 200 “habitat types of European importance”, such as forest, wetlands and meadow.
The Nature 2000 network of protected sites include Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and these form a national and internationally important network of protected areas around the European Union.
The Habitats Directive has now been transposed into an English and Welsh law as the Habitats Regulations and the Environment Agency is acting as one of the Competent Authorities responsible for implementing them.