The European Ecological Network Natura 2000 now covers 20% of Poland's territory. The new legal regulations protecting species of plants and animals threatened with extinction impose restrictions on economic activities conducted in Natura areas. This fact and errors committed due to the excessively arbitrary delimitation of the Natura sites as well as insufficient social communication with local communities and shortage of funds permitting to compensate the communes for the lost advantages make many local councils perceive the Natura 2000 network as a factor hampering development. It is evident that Poland has adopted a system of protection of environmentally valuable areas that is too complicated, too rigorous and expensive. Principled approach to environmental protection is sometimes necessary but whenever it is possible social-economic conditions characterising rural areas covered by the European Ecological Network Natura 2000 should be taken into consideration. Plans of protection tasks that are being formulated at present offer a chance for easing the effects of the committed errors because they can be expected to take into account the interests of local communities.