Europe and Central Asia

Nature and Biodiversity

Valdichiesa vegetation. Photo: Ji-Elle,Wikimedia Commons

Nature does not stop at borders. International action to protect nature is essential, for example to protect our birds when they fly over other countries during their migration. Present and future Europeans need a stable and strong international legal framework to keep enjoying the many benefits of nature in the entire European continent.

Recognising the need for international protection, the EU has adopted two legal instruments to protect nature, the Birds Directive (1979) and the Habitats Directive (1992). These Directives are the basis for the Natura 2000 network, the network of protected areas in the EU.  Many of the protected sites around us are actually Natura 2000 sites - check out our viewer to find out the one closest to you. The Birds and Habitats Directives are two solid and visionary pieces of legislation, which have proven to be the strongest legal working tool to protect nature in the EU.

Following international commitments under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the EU has also adopted a Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 (2011), a commitment by the EU and its Member States to take several additional actions to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. The Strategy has quantitative targets to restore a specific part of species and habitat to a better status. Also it resulted in new legislation on Invasive Alien Species, and increased action to save biodiversity in developing countries.


EU Nature and Biodiversity section


Positions adopted by the Birds and Habitats Directives Task Force (BHDTF)



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. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.