Provides a general introduction to EU nature conservation policy/law and the EU’s vast network of protected areas for wildlife, Natura 2000.

The chapter explains that the book critically assesses the origins, development and implementation of Natura 2000. To this end, the book presents a detailed history of the origins and negotiation of Natura 2000 policy and law, including the Birds and Habitats Directives. The book adopts an historical institutionalist approach, which emphasises the importance of understanding legal and policy development as processes that unfold over time, in seeking to understand current EU nature conservation policy in the light of its history and the institutional interplay that brought it into being. Principal data sources are identified, including original archival research and interviews with key participants in the history. The scope of coverage of the book is delineated.

The chapter explains that the book presents a detailed history and assessment of Natura 2000 policy and law in the framework of the general history of EU environmental policy and law. The book then applies an historical institutionalist analysis to address the following four central issues, which are introduced in turn. What insights can this detailed history and the attendant historical institutionalist approach contribute to understanding:

Conflicts in establishing the Natura 2000 network?

The resolution of acute conflicts between human land uses and Natura 2000 sites?

The process of EU integration in the nature policy field?

The future of EU nature policy?