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]
The Castro Verde SPA extends into six municipalities of Baixo Alentejo Subregion: Aljustrel Municipality, Almodôvar Municipality, Beja Municipality, Castro Verde Municipality, Mértola Municipality and Ourique Municipality, a total area of 79,007 hectares (790 km 2).
The Spanish term is ZEPA. There were 644 Spanish sites as at 2016.
The Czech Republic use the term Pta?í oblast (PO, bird area) for SPAs. There were declared 41 bird areas by the government directives between 2004 and 2009. They cover 9% of the state area.