The EU Nature Legislation: a world-class framework for biodiversity action
The decline of biodiversity – a global challenge
The decline of biological diversity, together with climate change, are the biggest environmental challenges of the 21st century – globally, and in Europe. Human well-being and socio-economic development depends on healthy and diverse ecosystems which in turn depend on the richness of life forms. BirdLife International firmly believes in the moral duty to preserve the diversity of life - birds, other animals, plants and their habitats - as value of its own, and for our children and future generations.
As opinion polls consistently show (e.g. 'Attitudes of Europeans towards the issue of Biodiversity' - Eurobarometer Dec 2007), the protection of nature and biodiversity is an area of high interest and priority for citizens, who in turn expect and trust European Union action.
EU legislation – a guardian of Europe’s natural heritage
- The Birds Directive: Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds (this is the codified version of original Directive 79/409/EEC as amended)
The Directive was adopted over concerns for migratory birds and the decline of bird populations across the then European Economic Community (EEC). The Directive has special provisions for the protection of bird species and important sites for birds.
- The Habitats Directive: Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora
This Directive provides for the protection of a long list of species (animals other than birds and plants) and habitats within the European Union. For a full listing of these, please see the Annexes to the Directive.
These two Directives provide a strong and modern framework for the conservation of species, sites and habitats which all EU Member State have to adopt (transpose) into their national legislation. The European Commission has the role to guide, support and monitor the transposition and implementation of the Directives.
One of the key obligations of the Directives on the EU Member States is to establish a network of protected areas for nature, on land and sea, called Natura 2000 within their European territory. This network, that currently covers more than 17% of the EU terrestrial territory is a great conservation achievement and unique in the world.
Strong commitment of BirdLife to the EU Nature Directives
The Birds Directive played an important role in the development of the BirdLife Important Bird Area Programme (IBA) in Europe and globally. IBAs are sites particularly important for bird conservation because they regularly hold significant population of one or more globally or regionally threatened, endemic or congregatory bird species or highly representative bird assemblages. In the European Union IBAs have been widely used as reference for the designation of Natura 2000 sites under the EU Birds Directive.
BirdLife has monitored, informed and supported the development and implementation of the two Directives since the 1980s for the Birds Directive and the 1990s for the Habitats. Being present with volunteers and experts in all corners of Europe, being the world’s authority on birds and the Red Listing authority under IUCN red list, BirdLife is well-placed to act for better protection of Europe’s unique natural heritage.
How does BirdLife work with the Nature Directives?
The EU Partnership of BirdLife International, with its extensive knowledge and experience on bird species, sites and habitats sees its role in this context as:
- provider of relevant and reliable data, expertise and policy positions to European and national decision makers in the context of the implementation of the Birds Directive and Natura 2000;
- “watchdog” to promote the full and correct implementation of the Directives at EU and national level, including monitoring and financing of implementation;
- key contributor to stakeholder dialogue on better implementation, to ensure strong support and wide acceptance of the Directives;
- communicator of the benefits emerging from biodiversity conservation in general and from the implementation of the Directives in particular.
BirdLife has published over the years several positions and other publications [e.g. Birds in the EU (PDF 1.3MB), BirdLife's vision for the Birds Directive (PDF 146KB)] assisting the implementation of the Directives and outlining the organisation’s vision for their future. BirdLife also runs campaigns and actions to protect threatened sites and species – to see how you can help, please click here. To receive regular news about the BirdLife activities in Europe, you can subscribe here to BirdLife Europe’s monthly e-newsletter.
To facilitate and use the full power of its national Partner NGOs from the EU Member States BirdLife International has established a Task Force, which, since 1996 promotes the full implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives.
At the same time BirdLife International is a member of the European Habitats Forum (EHF), a group of 17 nature conservation organisation networks cooperating to share experience and to work together towards the development and good implementation of EU biodiversity policies and legislation, especially the Birds and Habitats Directives.
EU Birds and Habitats Directives Leaflets
- What are the Birds and Habitats Directives?
- Financing for biodiversity conservation
- The socio-economic benefits of Natura 2000 sites
- Protection of Natura 2000 sites and economic development
- The management of Natura 2000 sites
- Nature conservation and EU biodiversity policy
- Nature conservation and land use
- Nature conservation and hunting
- Nature conservation and climate change
- Nature conservation and wind energy
- Case studies on Natura 2000 and economic development
- Case studies on species protection