Journal article Open Access
Spiliopoulou, Konstantina; Dimitrakopoulos, Panayiotis G.; Thomas M. Brooks; Gabriela Kelaidi; Kaloust Paragamian; Vassiliki Kati; Anthi Oikonomou; Dimitris Vavylis; Panayiotis Trigas; Petros Lymberakis; William Darwall; Maria Th. Stoumboudi; Kostas A. Triantis
Global environmental goals mandate the expansion of the protected area network to halt biodiversity loss. The European Union’s Natura 2000 network covers 27.3% of the terrestrial area of Greece, one of the highest percentages in Europe. However, the extent to which this network protects Europe’s biodiversity, especially in a biodiverse country like Greece, is unknown. Here, we overlap the country’s Natura 2000 network with the ranges of the 424 species assessed as threatened on the IUCN Red List and present in Greece. Natura 2000 overlaps on average 47.6% of the mapped range of threatened species; this overlap far exceeds that expected by random networks (21.4%). Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation (non-exclusive subsets of Natura 2000 sites) overlap 33.4% and 38.1% respectively. Crete and Peloponnese are the two regions with the highest percentage of threatened species, with Natura 2000 sites overlapping on average 62.3% with the threatened species’ ranges for the former, but only 30.6% for the latter. The Greek ranges of all 62 threatened species listed in Annexes 1 and II to the Birds and Habitats Directives are at least partially overlapped by the network (52.0%), and 18.0% of these are fully overlapped. However, the ranges of 27 threatened species, all of which are endemic to Greece, are not overlapped at all. These results can inform national policies for the protection of biodiversity beyond current Natura 2000 sites.