Urban Special Protection Areas for birds (SPAs)
The autonomous community of Extremadura has been the pioneer in the European Union in the designation of protected areas within urban areas, a habitat created by and for human beings where usually most of wild species are not found and particularly the most threatened.
The integration of urban nuclei within the Natura 2000 network has been possible through the application of the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/CE relating to the conservation of wild birds), the norm that established the requirement to declare Special Protection Areas for birds (SPA) in order to protect a series of species considered as priorities as well as their habitats.
By this means, certain urban centres recognised as important for birds have become part of the Natura 2000 network, entering this valuable framework of protect areas that currently covers 30.3% of the surface area of Extremadura, occupying more than 1,264,000 hectares.
The SPAs associated with urban areas have become one of the distinctive features of the Natura 2000 network in Extremadura, given that they account for almost 30% of the SPAs in the region (of the 71 in total). Even though their surface area together does not reach even 0.1% of the protected areas this does not negate their value for the conservation of birds.
Unlike the majority of the areas in the Natura 2000 network, the objective of the urban SPAs in Extremadura is not related to the conservation of natural habitats. Indeed, to the contrary, they have been designed specifically to protect man-made structures, being the nesting habitat of that unique species: the lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni).