In Portugal, the first official action concerning environmental matters was the establishment of the National Commission for the Environment (CNA) in 1971 to prepare for Portugal's participation in the UN Conference on Environment (held in Stockholm in 1972). The committee was initially established as part of the National Council for Scientific Research (JNICT), in charge of research programmes; this fostered the perception that the environment was a scientific rather than a policy or a political issue. The committee later became an autonomous body under the direct control of the prime minister and was responsible for the first efforts aimed at public information, awareness and training programmes with regard to the environment. Another early environmental institution, the National Parks Service, was established in 1974. Its objective was the creation of a framework for developing a network of natural protected areas. During the intervening years the service has assumed increased importance, and now has more than 500 people working all over the country in protected areas; these correspond to about 6 per cent of the national territory.