Natura 2000 network is the centrepiece of EU nature and biodiversity policy. The network includes special areas of conservation (SAC) all over Europe. Natura 2000 is not a system of strict nature reserves where all human activities are excluded. Whereas the network will certainly include nature reserves most of the land is likely to continue to be privately owned and the emphasis will be on ensuring that future management is sustainable, both ecologically and economically.
In the Eastern Rhodopes there are 9 Natura 2000 sites with a total of 233 347 hectares. Which means that 56% of Bulgarian part of the Eastern Rhodope territory is under EU protection.