Appeal to all nature conservation experts and practitioners

Eurasian Eagle Owl (c) BelgianChocolate, Flickr



Help us save nature conservation in Europe!

Tell the European Commission to implement, not reopen, the Birds and Habitats Directives

The EU Nature Directives are the bedrock of biodiversity conservation in the EU and have brought back many species back from the brink. They are often the only thing standing between harmful “development” and unique habitats and sites. After decades of hard work on designation of Natura 2000 sites, clarification of legal aspects and a huge increase in knowledge about state of and pressures to biodiversity in Europe, the EU Nature Directives are starting to show their effectiveness. But at the same time various vested interests are asking to weaken the legal provisions to favour socio-economic interest against nature conservation.

The political attack on the EU Nature Directives can be disguised under concepts like “modernisation”, “merging of the directives” and “bring them in line with scientific progress”. But it has been not-nature-friendly lobby pressure that has led to the current "Fitness Check" of the two Directives. The reality is that any attempt to revise the Birds and Habitats Directives would damage nature conservation for years to come. There are pressing political and economic reasons not to revise the Birds and Habitats Directives or update the Annexes and any change is likely to jeopardise progress towards achieving the objectives of the Directives, not to mention scuppering the EU 2020 biodiversity target. Crucial conservation efforts would be delayed while politicians introduce a thicket of exemptions and loopholes, and it is difficult to imagine that new rules will be stronger than the current ones. What Europe’s biodiversity needs is strong implementation, not re-writing the rulebook.

While ultimately it will be a political decision what happens to these laws, it is of paramount importance that all those who know and care about nature conservation raise their voice to keep the Directives. From 30 April to 26 July the European Commission is running a public consultation as part of the ongoing “fitness check” that will decide the fate of nature conservation (Please Note: this was extended from the original end date of 24 July). Environmental NGOs that are leading the fight have drafted suggested answers for citizens that would help deliver a loud and clear message to the Commission - see . Please distribute this e-action widely through social media, personal contacts and any other media.

If you are a conservation practitioner, a scientist, or otherwise have first hand experience of the Nature Directives, we strongly encourage you to answer the Commission’s questionnaire directly, including the second part, the “expert consultation. This should take you 15-30 minutes but it is very well invested time, this is the only chance for civil society and scientists to be involved. If you represent an institution, NGOs, scientific society or other body, make this clear in the relevant questionnaire field. Ideally leave an individual comment in the last field.

You can find our suggested answers here.

Feel free to adapt answers to your experience but remember that answers will be read politically (ie directives not efficient = directives need to be rewritten). We suggest that if you want to flag up problems of bad implementation you should do it through the free text question at the end.

Please alert as many colleagues, NGOs, institutions and professional bodies as possible.

Again, citizens that are not expert, but do share our concern for the future of nature, can submit their response to the Commission’s “citizens’ questionnaire” through our online tool which was specifically designed to make the response submission quick and easy.

Thank you for standing up for nature!