Birds legislation proved to have "huge impact" across Europe

28th July 2015

Bird species given the highest level of protection under EU legislation consistently fare better than those that are not, according to latest research.

The study, by the RSPB, BirdLife International and Durham University, reveals that populations of species listed in annex 1 of the Birds directive are more likely to be increasing than those that are not protected. It also shows that annex 1 species fare better in those countries that have been EU members for longer.

The scientists used a statistical model to exclude other factors, such as changes in climate and habitat. This yielded clear evidence that the majority of species prioritised for action under the directive are responding “positively and directly” to the level of protection, the study said.

Over a 25-year period, UK nesting species listed in annex 1 with a rising population include the avocet (504%); osprey (462%); bittern (567%) and crane (1,660%).

The findings come as the European commission closed its consultation on a review of the Birds and Habitats directives. More than 500,000 people from across Europe, including over 100,000 from the UK, have supported a call by campaigners not to amend the legislation. Several hundred environmental groups have come together in the campaign, and submitted evidence to the commission.

Martin Harper, conservation director at the RSPB, said: “With such strong evidence of the effectiveness of the EU’s nature laws, coupled with record levels of public support across Europe, the European commission has a strong mandate to ensure these laws are maintained.”

“These laws are delivering for Europe’s nature and its citizens, and now is not the time to jeopardize the effectiveness of these laws and the progress made. Instead, we should realise the full power of the laws, and implement them to help more species,” he said.


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