51st Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "New Challenges for European Regions and Urban Areas in a Globalised World", 30 August - 3 September 2011, Barcelona, Spain
Natura 2000 is a European coherent network of areas to be protected for their ecological importance, established under the Habitats Directive (HD) and under the Birds Directive (BD); it is aimed at protecting biodiversity and especially habitats and species rare, valuable or threatened. With reference to the management of sites composing the network, article 6 of the HD requires that Member States ‘establish the necessary conservation measures involving, if need be, appropriate management plans specifically designed for the sites or integrated into other development plans.' While conservation measures are compulsory, it is therefore up to each Member State to establish whether management plans are necessary and what form they will take. This paper analyzes the implementation of Natura 2000 in Sardinia (Italy), whose ecological network consists of 92 Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) and 37 Special Protection Areas (SPAs), accounting for nearly a 19% of the total land area of the island. In Italy management plans for Natura 2000 sites are not compulsory; however, following a call for proposals, in Sardinia 76 management plans concerning 87 SCIs were prepared by local administrations in compliance with both the 2002 national guidelines and the 2005 regional guidelines. As a result of the recent approval of 72 (as of February 2011) of these plans by the regional executive, approximately a 57% of the Sardinian ecological network is planned by means of management plans aimed at maintaining natural habitats or restoring them at a favourable conservation status. This raises a series of questions, two of which will be addressed in this paper by looking at specific case-studies. First, it is still unknown what role these plans will play in the Sardinian multi-level planning system; in fact, although municipalities have agreed to make their land-use plans compliant with management plans, this is a voluntary agreement and not a statutory requirement. Second, it is not yet clear how management plans will fit into the appropriate assessment of the implications of projects and plans (including land-use plans) for the site in question required by the HD.