Published February 13, 2021 | Version v1
Journal article Open

The Natura 2000 network and the ranges of threatened species in Greece

  • 1. Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Institute of Marine Biological Resources and Inland Waters, 19013 Anavissos, Greece
  • 2. Biodiversity Conservation Laboratory, Department of Environment, University of the Aegean, 81100 Mytilene, Greece
  • 3. Science and Knowledge Unit, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland
  • 4. Department of Ecology and Taxonomy, Faculty of Biology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, GR-15784 Athens, Greece
  • 5. Hellenic Institute of Speleological Research, 714 09 Irakleio, Crete, Greece
  • 6. Department of Biological Applications and Technology, University of Ioannina, 45110 Ioannina, Greece
  • 7. Faculty of Crop Science, Agricultural University of Athens, GR-118 55 Athens, Greece
  • 8. Natural History Museum of Crete, University of Crete, 71409 Irakleio, Greece
  • 9. Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, IUCN Global Species Programme, The David Attenborough Building, CB2 3QZ UK Cambridge, United Kingdom


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.



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