More than a third of land in Cyprus is protected, the sixth highest rate in the EU27, according to figures published by Eurostat on Saturday on the occasion of Natura 2000 Day, which is marked annual on May 21 and the International Day for Biological Diversity, marked on May 22.

The EU has the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world, known as Natura 2000, consisting of around 27,000 terrestrial and marine sites protected under the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive (known as “the Nature Directives”). In addition, EU Member States have protected large portions of their territory under national protection schemes, Eurostat said.

In 2021, around 1.1 million km² of the EU Member States’ land area was designated for the preservation of biodiversity as Natura 2000 sites or nationally protected sites. This represents over a quarter (26 per cent) of the total EU land area.

In 2021, protected areas represented 20 per cent or more of the total land area in 20 of the 27 EU Member States, with the highest shares recorded in Luxembourg (52 per cent), Bulgaria and Slovenia (both 41 per cent).

Cyprus came in sixth with 37.7 per cent.

In contrast, the lowest shares of protected areas were observed in Finland (13 per cent), Ireland and Sweden (both 14 per cent).

Environmental degradation is an existential threat to Europe and the world, which is why the European Green Deal is one of the six European Commission priorities for 2019 – 24, Eurostat concluded.

To learn more, you can take a look at the Eurostat interactive visualisation tool which shows statistics relevant for the European Green Deal. It presents an overview of 26 indicators for the EU, the Member States and EFTA countries, divided into three main topics: Reducing our climate impact, protecting our planet & health and enabling a green & just transition.