Protected sites in Belgium represent many different types of ecosystems: forests, wetlands, pastures, calcareous grasslands, heathlands, caves, marine areas, etc. Their sizes range from 0.3 to 72,000 hectares !
The protection of natural areas in Belgium is carried out through various legislative instruments. Each of Belgium's three regions has its own system and categories of protection status.
The table below gives an indication of the extent of protected areas in Belgium. An overall estimation is difficult to give, since different protection statuses have sometimes been attributed to the same site. For example, a nature reserve can also be included in the Natura 2000 network.
 Of this total area being managed as a reserve, only 5 491 ha have a formal recognition by ministerial decision as nature reserve.
 Of this total area, only 11277 ha have a formal recognition by ministerial decision as nature reserve.
The total surface of the Natura 2000 network in the terrestrial zone reaches 12.6 % of Belgium's territory. In marine waters, about 12% of the Belgian territorial sea and its exclusive economic zone are designated as Natura 2000.
The data in the table is extracted from Belgium's Response to CBD notification 2006-080 on Protected Areas (2007).
For more recent data on Natura 2000 area, please visit the Natura 2000 section or consult the extract of the 5th National report to the Convention on Biological Diversity.