Record breaking number seek to save the EU's wildlife laws
Almost half a million (live updated number https://www.naturealert.eu/en)* people from across Europe - including thousands from Ireland - have called on the European Commission to save Europe’s nature laws. This is by far the highest number of responses ever to an EU public consultation. The consultation formally closes at midnight on 26 July.
In May, major environmental organisations (note 2) - including An Taisce - launched the ‘Nature Alert’ campaign (note 3) in response to the European Commission’s suggestion to evaluate whether the existing EU nature laws should be changed. The campaign makes the case for improved implementation and enforcement of these existing laws, known as the Birds and Habitats Directives.
Alongside almost half a million citizens*, over 120 environmental NGOs have sent a clear message to European decision makers: EU nature laws should not be changed.
The laws protect over 1,000 key species and over 27,000 natural sites in Europe. They have been credited with saving a number of iconic species native to Europe such as the Grey Wolf, the White-Tailed Sea Eagle and the Common Seal (note 4). As a result, the EU is now home to the world’s largest network of protected areas, Natura 2000, which covers almost a fifth of the EU’s land as well as extensive marine areas.
Scientific evidence shows (note 5) that the laws effectively protect key endangered species and threatened habitats, and contribute to the socio-economic development of local communities and regions.
In parallel with the public consultation (6), the European Commission has consulted with a wide range of stakeholders including national authorities, land users, the business community and environmental NGOs. The vast majority of evidence submitted supports the Directives and points at the need for better implementation and enforcement and for increased funding for conservation. Very few stakeholders have called into question the Directives in their current form and requested a revision of the laws.
Dr. Andrew Jackson, Natural Environment Officer and Solicitor for An Taisce, comments:
"This consultation has united people across Europe in defence of wildlife. As this huge response shows, the public cares deeply about nature conservation and the laws that preserve our most treasured places, including our national parks and many hundreds of other spectacular sites across Ireland. The message to the European Commission is loud and clear: we need to see better implementation and enforcement of these laws, not renegotiation and weakening."
The official analysis of the consultation is likely to be published in autumn 2015 and a final decision on the future of the laws is expected by June 2016.
- The consultation has been the only chance for the public to have their say during the technical evaluation. The process of reviewing the Nature Directives began in January 2015 and will take more than a year to complete. In a few months the campaign has generated an unprecedented public response: over 50,000 tweets were sent to Vice President Timmermans and the EU Environment Commissioner Vella to defend these laws. The directives are currently under review as part of wider efforts by the Commission to make sure European legislation is fit for purpose.
- BirdLife, the European Environmental Bureau, Friends of the Earth Europe and WWF.
- Nature Alert campaign website http://www.naturealert.eu; An Taisce's page http://www.antaisce.org/naturealert
- Conservation successes due to the Nature Directives http://d2ouvy59p0dg6k.cloudfront.net/downloads/natura2000_factsheet_final.pdf
- The scientific evidence and case studies submitted by environmental NGOs during the Fitness please check (for example): Birdlife Evidence - WWF Evidence Gathering Questionnaire for the Fitness Check of the Nature Directives