The World Resources Institute estimates that there are 8,163 protected areas worldwide, managed for various objectives ranging from strict nature protection to controlled harvesting. They cover 750 million hectares (1 hectare = 2.5 acres) of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, which is about 1.5% of the Earth's surface, and 5.1% of national land area.
The European Commission Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna) has as its principal goal the establishment of Natura 2000, an EU-wide network of sites for the conservation of animal and plant species and habitats of European importance. The Directive required Member States to send to the Commission by June 1995 a list of the sites intended as a contribution to the network, together with site information. Member States proposed contributions are intended to be evaluated in the framework of 6 bio-geographical regions (i.e. major geographical areas subject to a particular climatic regime and having characteristic vegetation).