One of the most significant European interventions for biodiversity protection is the Natura 2000 Network of protected sites, where natural habitats are to be preserved in order to rescue endangered species from extinction. Aiming at long term sustainability, biodiversity protection cannot be achieved without the transformation of previous local practices of land and water use, hunting habits and infra-structure construction. Therefore the legal tools of Natura 2000 now intervene in an everyday bases in the habits of the communities located in the sites, requesting from them the initiation and maintenance of non activist behaviours of the public sphere (Stern, 2000). This situation brings to the fore the dilemmas and difficulties of articulating individual with common interests and of imposing top-down change in a context where public participation is simultaneously valued. The pressures for change were therefore followed by both acceptance and opposition from local groups and actors, and the Press has a relevant role to play here. Our presentation will focus on how the press brings these discussions and reactions to the public sphere, It will depart from an analysis of the Portuguese press over a 9-year period (1998-2007). All articles of four national and four regional newspapers from the Southern part of Portugal referring to Natura 2000 were collected. We examined the different meanings that are associated to nature conservation and biodiversity protection, giving special attention to how the issue of the legitimacy of change imposed through legal tools was interpreted. The comparison between regional and national papers shows how national papers accentuating the common benefits and the positive aspects of the legal measures regarding biodiversity protection while regional papers accentuate instead the practical difficulties of translating legal norms to particular cases, and focus on the difficulties encountered in particular contexts. We will explore other dimensions differentiating the papers, and finally the discussion will explore how the differences found can be useful for furthering our comprehension of what sustains or undermines non activist behaviours of the public sphere, and a better understanding of the power of the media for interfering with social change in the ecological domain.