INSPIRE Data Specification PS v3.1

Within the INSPIRE context, Protected Sites may be located in terrestrial, aquatic and/or marine environments, and may be under either public or private ownership. They may include localities with protection targets defined by different sectors and based on different objectives. Objectives for protection may include: the conservation of nature; the protection and maintenance of biological diversity and of natural resources and the protection of person-made objects including buildings, pre-historic and historic archaeological sites, other cultural objects, or sites with specific geological, hydrogeological or geomorphological value. Protected Sites may receive protection due to more than one type of objective, and may have a double or multifarious designation status.

In all cases, Protected Sites have a known location, boundary and area, based on formal, legal or administrative agreements or decisions. Protected Site boundaries are often defined relative to cadastral boundaries, natural boundaries or to some other feature, or sometimes they are approximately defined on the basis of the extent of the presence of a particular species. However, in the INSPIRE context, all Protected Sites have distinct boundaries of their own, rather than being defined relative to some other spatial object type.


The purpose of this document is to specify a harmonised data specification for the spatial data theme Protected sites as defined in the INSPIRE Directive. Data products based on the Protected sites Data Specification are intended to be used for the following purposes:

  1. To generate European spatial data reports.
  2. To allow the public to query and view information about Protected Sites locally and regionally.
  3. To allow experts to visualise and analyse Protected Sites locally, regionally, nationally and Europe-wide.
  4. To allow experts and semi-experts to download data from a single country, a subset of countries or across Europe.


The INSPIRE data specification on Protected sites has been prepared following the participative principle of a consensus building process. The stakeholders, based on their registration as a Spatial Data Interest Community (SDIC) or a Legally Mandated Organisation (LMO) had the opportunity to bring forward user requirements and reference materials, propose experts for the specification development, and to participate in the review of the data specifications. The Thematic Working Group responsible for the specification development was composed of experts coming from Germany, United Kingdom, and the European Environment Agency. The specification process took place according to the methodology elaborated for INSPIRE respecting the requirements and the recommendation of the INSPIRE Generic Conceptual Model, which is one of the elements that ensures a coherent approach and cross theme consistency with other themes in the Directive.


Long description

The INSPIRE data specification Protected sites covers spatial data sets which relate to an area where a Member State has and/or exercises jurisdictional rights. It may also cover other geographical areas within which INSPIRE is applied, even if they are not current EU Member States.

Protected Sites may overlap if they are of a different designation, but do not necessarily provide complete and contiguous coverage of an entire Member State.


The INSPIRE Protected sites theme is designed to be used at all levels of spatial resolution: the European level, the National level, the Regional level and the Local level. For this reason, the highest available resolution is to be used.

Spatial resolution varies widely across different Protected Sites and is largely dictated by the method of capture and the data source. Protected Sites are normally referenced to existing mapping of the cadastre and natural features, and thus the resolution of the Protected Site depends on the resolution of the underlying data source and the method of capture (often digitisation). Typical scales of capture range from larger than 1:5,000 (accuracy less than +/-1m) to 1:100,000 (accuracy +/-25m), corresponding to the local level and regional level respectively.


Known implementation

The whole known implementation of Inspire is available at:

History / Key milestones

The Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council adopted on 14 March 2007 aims at establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE) for environmental policies, or policies and activities that have an impact on the environment.


Representation technique
Human Language