Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are rigorously protected sites classified in compliance with Article 4 of the EC Directive on the conservation of wild birds (79/409/EEC called the Birds Directive, which came into force in April 1979. Their classification is due to rare and vulnerable birds, listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive, and regular migratory species occurrence.
Designation of SPAs
The Bird Directive doesn’t provide official criteria for the selection of SPAs, so the statutory country conservation agencies and government may set up and publish SPA Selection Guidelines. Each SPA is then selected according to the principles outlined in the selection guidelines. At the time of classification two documents are created; the citation and the Natura 2000 Standard Data Form. The format of this form and clarifying notes are supplied on the European Commission's website.
The European Commission then follows the progress of classification of SPAs across the European Union by evaluating the data proposed to it by Member States in the Natura 2000 Standard Data Form. This is then reviewed in the Natura 2000 Barometer, which is consistently updated and provides details of the number of sites classified, the total area covered by these sites and it also gives an estimate of the proportion of the countries coverage. The Natura 2000 Barometer is available on the European Commission's website.