EU Nature and Biodiversity


The Birds and Habitats Directives are the cornerstone of EU biodiversity policy. The BirdLife Partnership has been involved with their development, transposition and implementation from the very beginning. These Directives, and their interpretation by the European Court of Justice, have proven to be our strongest legal working tool to protect nature across the EU.

The Birds Directive (1979) generates a legal framework for the protection for all wild birds in the EU (including their eggs, nests and habitats). It offers common rules for the regulation of hunting in the EU and foresees the set-up of special measures of conservation for a list of birds (including the protection of key sites for these species – Special Protection Areas). The Habitats Directive (1992) was developed later and aims to protect all other species and habitats ‘of Community Interest’.  Among other things this Directive is the legal basis for the designation, protection and management of the Natura 2000 Network.

The network also includes Special Protection Areas designated under the Birds Directive. Natura 2000 sites are not “fenced-off” protected areas; human activities in the Natura 2000 sites are allowed as long as they do not affect the conservation objectives of the site.

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.


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