Natura 2000 and networks are European networks of protected areas intended to coherently protect species and natural habitats across national borders. These networks complement nationally designated protected areas to make up a combined protected area of 1 092 529 km2, or 25 % of Europe's land and inland waters. Marine protected areas, which include additional international designations, cover more than 340 000 km2 or 6 % of Europe's regional seas.
Protected areas have multiple benefits for society. These 'ecosystem services' range from filtering air and water to recreation and food provision. They are also important in helping Europe adapt to climate change.
Over recent years, European countries have improved data sharing on protected areas. This information is valuable for assessing the natural capital of countries. The latest data on nationally designated areas and Natura 2000 sites show the extent of terrestrial protected areas by the end of 2013. Its release coincides with the end of the , held every ten years.