Recognising the importance of safeguarding biodiversity, in June 2002 the European Council of Göteborg set a target of halting its decline by 2010. Fulfilling this target has been adopted as one of the key aims of the 6th Community Action Plan for the Environment. The candidate countries have, by signing the El Teide declaration, also demonstrated their determination to stop the impoverishment of biodiversity. Entitled u0093Natura 2000: A Partnership for Natureu0094, this declaration marks a strong commitment to implementing the network. With sites covering more than 10% of the surface area of the EU, the Natura 2000 network is now of major importance for nature conservation. The purpose of this network of protected areas is to protect natural habitats and species of Community interest. The objective is innovative and ambitious; its implementation therefore requires broad-based mobilisation and appropriate means. LIFE-Nature, a specific Community financial instrument which has been targeting the conservation of natural environments since 1992, is a pilot for sustainable development serving Natura 2000. It is a flagship that mobilises stakeholders in the field around a large number of projects which constitute a veritable laboratory for the conservation of natural environments.