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European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article21 May 2022European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency1 min read

LIFE and Natura 2000 are 30 years old today


Today, the LIFE Programme and Natura 2000 have reached the age of 30. Here’s a look back at how they started, what they have achieved and what’s in store to mark this special year.

When did LIFE and Natura 2000 begin?

On 21 May 1992, the then European Economic Community passed two laws that would forever change the face of nature conservation: The Habitats Directive and the LIFE Regulation, which established the LIFE Programme. The Habitats Directive also established a Europe-wide ecological network of protected areas: Natura 2000

What has LIFE achieved?

Since that day, LIFE has gone on to co-finance conservation actions on more than 6 000 Natura 2000 sites –roughly 20% of the entire network. And it has doubled the size of the marine Natura 2000 network over the past five years. €3 billion has been spent on 1 800 nature and biodiversity projects. LIFE projects have safeguarded some 750 species. Also, LIFE has purchased around 200 000 hectares of land across the EU – this land is protected indefinitely.

And Natura 2000?

30 years on, Natura 2000 forms the backbone of EU nature conservation policy. It is the world’s largest coordinated network of legally protected areas and covers 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 9% of its sea area. Natura 2000 is vital for the European Green Deal’s successful implementation.

How is the year being celebrated?

Events take place across Europe until the end of the year to mark both anniversaries.

LIFE launched its #LIFEis30 campaign, which encourages ongoing and past LIFE projects to become LIFE ambassadors during 2022. If you are organising an event to celebrate LIFE, we have prepared a wealth of promotional materials, which you can find on our website: Don’t forget to submit your action.

Our campaign will continue until the end of the year. So don’t worry if you haven’t organised anything yet – there is still time.

Today, Natura 2000 Day is celebrated in the Sonian Forest in Belgium. And hundreds of other events are being held across the EU.

Where can I find out more?

You can follow the hashtags #LIFEis30 and #Natura2000Day.

And be sure to keep an eye on our social media channels: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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