||Biodiversity is increasingly recognized as an invaluable element of the European heritage. Across Europe, the NATURA 2000 ecological network has been established under the European Community’s `habitats` directive and the `bird` directive. The goal of this network is to provide a strong protection for Europe’s most valuable wildlife areas. If development plans or projects threaten to deteriorate this network or its favourable conservation status, a special assessment is required (see Art.6 of the Fauna-Flora-Habitat directive, called FFH-assessment). When planning a new foot-bridge in a NATURA 2000 site, it became obvious that an evaluation of the possible ecological deterioration is only possible when detailed information about the current and the potential future recreational use is included in the assessment. It will be suggested that visitor monitoring and visitor surveys collect essential background information for the FFH-assessment process evaluating the possible impacts on NATURA 2000 sites. Without such data it would be impossible to determine the potential effects of changes to the recreational infrastructure and its associated uses on protected areas. Therefore, a curriculum for protected area planning that strives to accommodate the legal requirements of the European Community should also include recreation research techniques.