Nature Directives fit for purpose – European conservation movement says

November 19, 2015

Today, 20 European conservation organisations including Rewilding Europe,  present a joint paper called ‘Action for Biodiversity in the EU and the Fitness Check of the Birds and Habitat Directives’. The joint paper, which was developed under the umbrella of the European Habitats Forum states that the Fitness Check evidence is crystal clear – the Birds and Habitat Directives are fit for purpose and there is no case for “merging and modernising” them.

The 20 organisations that signed the position paper on the Habitat and Bird Directives, working together under the European Habitat Forum.

The 20 organisations that signed the position paper on the Habitat and Bird Directives, working together under the European Habitat Forum.

Conservationists, politicians and representatives of the EU institutions are today [Friday 20th November] attending the “Conference on the Fitness Check of EU Nature Legislation” organised by the European Commission in Brussels on the Birds and Habitats Directives, also known as the Nature Directives.

EU Environment Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, will outline the Commission’s first findings from the process so far, with more details given by his consultants who undertook the biggest ever evaluation of nature conservation legislation in Europe. The initial results will be discussed with panels composed of Member State officials, industry representatives, NGOs and MEPs.

Natura 2000 is the centerpiece of EU nature and biodiversity policy.
Natura 2000 is the centerpiece of EU nature and biodiversity policy.

It is feared the laws, also known as the Nature Directives, could be re-opened, merged or weakened as part of President Jean Claude Juncker and vice-President Timmermans’ drive for ‘better regulation’. But since the process began, the people of Europe have demonstrated an unprecedented show of support to protect nature. A record number of citizens took part in a public consultation on this issue in the summer, with over 90% of the more than a half a million who responded backing the directives and asking for stronger enforcement.

Last month, environment ministers from nine EU countries signed a letter to the Commission calling for the laws to be better implemented, not weakened. In the same week, an equally supportive letter followed from MEPs representing the seven biggest political groupings in the European Parliament.

Just 10 days ago, on 12 November, the initial findings of the Fitness Check, or ‘REFIT’, process by the European Commission on the Birds and Habitats Directives have been published. This evaluation study, compiled by a panel of technical experts, has found no reason for merging the directives and says they are also coherent with other EU policies and laws. Further, it spells out the huge benefits provided by the laws when compared with how much they cost.

Sunset view of mountain ridges in the Central Apenines rewilding landscape, Italy.
Sunset view of mountain ridges in the Central Apenines rewilding landscape, Italy.

— ‘’ The Nature Directives – together with the Water Framework and the Marine Framework Directives – provide a sound legal base for achieving the EU Biodiversity 2020 targets’’, states Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe. ‘’Rewilding Europe is particularly prepared to contribute speeding up the restoration of 15% of degraded ecosystems through rewilding large landscapes, support the recovery of wildlife species, improve connectivity of the Natura 2000 network on land and demonstrate how rural and urban communities can benefit from this.’’

The European Habitats Forum (EHF) assembles leading European nature conservation organisations to provide advice on the implementation and future development of EU biodiversity policy, including improving integration into sectoral policies. Rewilding Europe became a member of the European Habitat Forum in April 2015. The 20 organisations propose 17 action points that are crucial for maintaining and restoring Europe’s nature and biodiversity.

You can download the position paper of the 20 conservation organisations here.

Note:

More information and live web-streaming of the “Conference on the Fitness Check of EU Nature Legislation” event is available here, along with the first findings published last week.

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