The European Commission has designated new nature preserves that together cover 11,800 square miles, an area two-thirds the size of the Netherlands (or for those more familiar with geography on this side of the pond, the size of Maryland and Rhode Island combined).
Part of the Natura 2000 network, the new natural areas designated this week are primarily in central and eastern Europe, including lands in Austria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Among the highlights of the newly designated natural areas are 18 parts of the Carpathian Mountain range in Poland and the Malta Fatra farming area in Slovakia, according to WWF. The Gory Slonne Mountains, part of the newly protected Carpathian protected areas, will please American tourists who like birds; it is classified as an important bird area.
The Natura 2000 project was developed starting in 1992 to preserve European biodiversity as population increases. The network of protected lands now covers nearly 20% of the continent's land and more than 60,000 square miles of its seas.
For American tourists, it means there's more to see (once the exchange rate becomes more favorable) than Europe's cities and historic sites.
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