Defend Nature

Wednesday 8th July 2015

100 voluntary organisations across the UK have joined forces to call for the protection of Europe’s natural environment

EU legislation – the Birds and Habitats Directives – exist to protect the most important wildlife species and habitats in the UK and Europe. However, these laws are now under review and at risk of being weakened.

Right now the European Commission (EC) is reviewing these laws - the 'Nature Directives' - and asking people to give their opinion on them. So it's vital that as many of us as possible say that we feel strongly about this and don't want to see these laws weakened.

Across Europe all countries share two main nature laws - the Habitats Directive, adopted in 1992 which protects a range of important habitats and species, and the Birds Directive, which aims to protect all European wild birds. There is also a network of protected wild places - called Natura2000 - stretching across Europe. In the UK more than 800 places are part of this network including the New Forest, Chesil Beach in Dorset, Isles of Scilly, the River Tweed, the South Pennine Moors, Ashdown Forest – home of Winnie the Pooh, the North Antrim Coast, Ben Nevis, the Cairngorms, the Brecon Beacons and the Severn Estuary. These special places need all the protection they can get.

How can you add your support?

The European Commission is asking for the opinion of people across Europe through an online consultation - so you can make your voice heard. The Wildlife Trusts are joining 100 other charities and environmental organisations across Europe to provide suggested responses to the consultation (which consists of 14 questions) in support of the Nature Directives. This is to help send a clear and consistent message to the European Commission that people feel strongly about this, wherever they live. 

We have until the 24 July to respond to the consulation. Please take a minute to add your voice. We have created a pre-filled version of the consultation form to save you time. An explanation of our answers can be found here.

The ‘Joint Links group’, representing 100 voluntary organisations across the UK, has published a position statement warning that the European Commission’s REFIT ‘Fitness Check’ of the Birds and Habitats Directives is the single biggest threat to UK and European nature and biodiversity in a generation.

The organisations raise concerns that the Directives are under threat of being weakened by those who mistakenly regard them as a block on business and economic growth. In the current political context any revision of the Directives would expose them to prolonged uncertainty and leave the long-term future of Europe’s biodiversity vulnerable to short-term political priorities.

Chair of the Joint Links’Habitats and Birds group Kate Jennings, (RSPB), said: "The Habitats and Birds Directives are the foundation of nature conservation across Europe and are scientifically proven to be effective where properly implemented. The Directives deliver demonstrable benefits for nature, as well as significant social and economic benefits.

“For over 30 years they have protected some of our best loved and most iconic landscapes from the Scottish Flow County to the sand dunes and marshes of the north Norfolk coast. They are essential to the protection of species large and small, from the basking shark and the harbour porpoise, to the Dartford warbler and the hazel dormouse.

“The strength of support from 100 voluntary organisations across the UK shows how significant the Directives are insafeguarding Europe’s biodiversity. Uncertainty over the future of the Directives resulting from the ‘Fitness Check’ review could be bad for nature, bad for people and bad for business.”

The Joint Links group’s response to the EC consultation sets out a huge volume of evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of the Directives in protecting nature, providing huge benefits for people and providing a stable framework for responsible businesses.

On 30 April the European Commission launched its public consultation on the Directives.Voluntary organisations have also today launched the‘Nature Alert’ electronic tool, enabling the public to have their say in one easy click

You can read The Wildlife Trusts' Joan Edwards' blog about the benefits European legislation brings about here

Please do use our web-form to have your say and add your voice to those defending these Directives, including over 100 environmental charities. The European Commission is listening and this may be your only opportunity to make sure you are heard.

Joint Links collectively represents voluntary organisations with more than 8 million supporters across the UK. It comprises the combined memberships of Wildlife and Countryside Link, Scottish Environment Link, Wales Environment Linkand the Northern Ireland Environment Link. Each is a coalition of environmental voluntary organisations, united by their common interest in the conservation and restoration of nature and the promotion of sustainable development across the terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments.

The ‘Nature Alert’tool was developed by a coalition of Europe-wide voluntary organisations (BirdLife Europe; European Environmental Bureau; Friends of the Earth Europe; and WWF Europe). The tool is being made available to citizens of 28 European countries and has been translated into 20 languages.
For more information please contact;

Dr Elaine King, Director of Wildlife and Countryside Link,07846 571252
Grahame Madge, RSPB, 01767 693221 or 07702 196902
Sandra Bell, Friends of the Earth, 0794 117 6957
Pete Morris, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, 01453 891179


FilenameFile size
joint_links_refit_position_statement_final.pdf245.63 KB

Tagged with: Nature directive