A Victory for Nature

9th December 2016
News Item

Great news for nature! After a long campaign to protect nature, An Taisce is delighted by the news that The Birds and Habitats Directives will not be re-opened and instead the focus will be given to better implementation.

Over 90 environmental NGOs across Europe launched a joint online action to save European nature from European Commission President Juncker’s deregulation agenda. So many responded to the call to help safeguard the Nature Directives. Over 500,000 voices spoke for nature, signing the documents of the European Commission’s consultation process in summer 2015. Those voices were heard loud and clear by Commissioner Karmenu Vella and those at the European Commission.

The campaign was led by NGOs BirdLife, Friends of the Earth Europe, WWF and The European Environmental Bureau, of which An Taisce is a member. An Taisce coordinated the Irish eNGO submission to the Commission, highlighting that the Directives were 'fit for purpose' and should not be altered.

The Directives are essential for nature conservation in Europe and are some of the strongest in the world. They are designed to protect species from extinction and habitats from destruction and protect over 1,000 key species and over 27,000 natural sites in Europe. Thanks to the legal protection to nature given by the Natura 2000 network, some species previously on the brink are recovering and important habitats are being protected.

The European Commission’s ‘Fitness Check’ evaluating the Directives identified many challenges and problems, such as insufficient management and lack of adequate investment in the Natura 2000 areas, among other issues. The evaluation discovered the need for improved implementation and better coherence with ‘broader socio-economic objectives’. It is clear that in Ireland and the rest of the EU poor implementation is the greatest hindrance to the Directives in their capacity for preventing biodiversity loss.

The next step of the Commission will be to develop an Action Plan to ‘correct the deficiencies’ in terms of implementation of the Directives. This will include, “in partnership with Member States and relevant stakeholders, appropriate implementation guidelines for regional actors, reducing unnecessary burdens and litigation, and incentivising national and regional investment in biodiversity”.[Note 1]

An Taisce are in on-going contact with the Commission on a number of issues and will continue to work for better nature conservation.
This is a great victory for nature. Thank you to all those who responded positively to the campaign and sent a clear message to the Commission that EU Nature Laws are here to stay.

[1] Fitness Check of Nature legislation: Commission considers options for improved implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives [Press Release - 07 / 12 / 2016] European Commission – Available at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEX-16-4308_en.htm