A special protection area (SPA) is a designation under the European Union Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds. Under the Directive, Member States of the European Union (EU) have a duty to safeguard the habitats of migratory birds and certain particularly threatened birds. Together with special areas of conservation (SACs), the SPAs form a network of protected sites across the EU, called Natura 2000. Each SPA has an EU code – for example the North Norfolk Coast SPA has the code UK9009031.
As at 21 September 2006, there were 252 classified SPAs and 12 proposed SPAs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 1994 implement the terms of the Directive in Scotland, England and Wales. In Great Britain, SPAs (and SACs) designated on land or in the intertidal area are normally also notified as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), and in Northern Ireland as Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs). For example, the Broadland SPA in eastern England is a conglomeration of some 28 SSSIs. SPAs may extend below low tide into the sea, and for these areas SSSI notification is not possible. In Scotland, some SPAs have been classified without any underpinning designation by SSSI.[clarification needed]
Further information: Special Protection Areas in Poland
Special Protection Areas for birds in Poland are called OSOPs (Polish: Obszar Specjalnej Ochrony Ptaków). As of 2005, there were 72 OSOP Areas designated as such.
The Castro Verde SPA extends into six municipalities of Baixo Alentejo Subregion: Aljustrel, Almodôvar Municipality, Beja Municipality, Castro Verde Municipality, Mértola and Ourique Municipality, a total area of 79,007 hectares (790 km 2).
The Spanish term is ZEPA. There were 658 Spanish sites as at 2021.
The Czech Republic uses the term Ptačí oblast (PO, bird area) for SPAs. Between 2004 and 2009, 41 bird areas were declared by government directives. They cover 9% of the state area.