Nature Alert Campaign

Defending the EU laws that protect nature

This campaign proved that Irish and EU citizens want better not weaker protection for nature.

Europe’s Habitats and Birds Directives are recognised as some of the strongest environmental laws in the world protecting birds, animals, plant and habitats across the EU. These laws underpin the Natura 2000 network. This network of protected sites stretched over 18 % of the EU’s land area and almost 9.5% % of its marine territory, it is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. It offers a haven to Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats.

In the summer of 2015, the European Commission carried out a reviewed of these directives and threatened to weaken them significantly. More than 520,000 people took part in the public consultation urging the Commission to keep the EU nature protection directives intact.

BirdWatch Ireland were one of more than 90 environmental organisations have joined forces to mobilise members, supporters and the general public to tell the Commission that they want Europe’s nature laws to be maintained, better implemented and enforced.

The response to the campaign was an overwhelming with over five hundred and twenty thousand citizens calling on better not weaker protection for European wildlife. This result was in line with surveys which show that 95% of EU citizens say protecting the environment is important to them personally and 77% agree that European environmental legislation is necessary for protecting the environment in their country (Eurobarometer 2014).

This was a great victory for nature. The campaign highlighted that when the Habitats and Birds Directives are enforced then wildlife can recover. However, the campaign also highlighted that within Ireland and across the EU the implementation of these laws is not adequate and as a result biodiversity continues to decline. BirdWatch Ireland continue to work with the Irish government and our partners in Ireland and the EU to ensure that the laws that protect nature are fully implemented and that conservation is properly implemented.