In parliament - No weakening of biodiversity laws

30th September 2015

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Natural resources ,
  • Biodiversity ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Politics & Economics ,
  • EU



Catherine Bearder highlights the urgent need to act on challenges to ecosystems at a European level.

As a "species champion" for the RSPB, I am an advocate and protector for the endangered turtle dove. I recently visited Kent to learn more about the species and the work of the RSPB. The turtle dove was common across much of England, but is now retreating into an ever shrinking patch of East Anglia and south east England. Its population in England has declined by 93% since 1970, and across Europe its status is now "near threatened".

The plight of the migratory turtle dove symbolises the urgent need at European level to act on challenges facing ecosystems. The journeys all migratory birds take have no regard for national borders, and so our response to the turtle dove's dwindling population must also be cross-border. Unless Europe works together to protect its habitat, the species will vanish, as will many others.

The Birds and Habitats directives form the cornerstone of Europe's nature conservation policy, protecting important wildlife and habitats across the continent. The evidence that the legislation works is clear. Before the directives, the UK was losing protected sites at a rate of 15% a year. Now the figure is 1% - though this is still too high.

This year the directives have come under threat as the European commission seeks to overhaul much of the EU's environment legislation. Seen by some as a way to make the law more sympathetic to business, the possible watering down of the directives should be regarded as one of the biggest threats to nature in Europe in decades.

In response to its review, I have been putting pressure on the commission to ensure Europe's natural habitats are protected for future generations. I am co-authoring a review of the EU's 2020 biodiversity strategy for the European parliament. This will highlight the need to do more to protect endangered species and habitats across the continent.


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