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Worldwide praise to EU for protecting birds…

30th anniversary

European Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas at BirdLife event celebrating the 30th anniversary of the EU Birds Directive – however, dramatic decline of many migratory birds continues…

On 2 April 2009, efforts to conserve Europe’s threatened natural heritage received much-needed support from high-level decision makers in Brussels. On the occasion of a BirdLife International event celebrating the 30th anniversary of the EU Birds Directive, the Commissioner for the Environment, Mr Stavros Dimas expressed the need to strengthen efforts in halting the decline of species and habitats (biodiversity), building on existing nature legislation such as the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.“It is […] self-evident that protecting birds needs effective international cooperation and it was therefore no coincidence that the Wild Birds Directive was the first piece of EU Environmental legislation dedicated to nature conservation”, the Commissioner stated at the event.

In a Commission press release Commissioner Dimas said on this occasion “The Birds Directive is one of the great success stories of EU environmental policy”. Referring to discussions on the EU’s post 2010 biodiversity policy he stressed: “The Birds Directive is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago and has a key role to play in delivering our biodiversity policy for many years to come”.

On behalf of the EU Presidency, Czech Deputy Environment Minister, Mr František Pelc, congratulated Europeans for 30 years of bird protection.On a video message, African conservationists from Burkina Faso conveyed their gratitude to the EU for protecting African birds during their summer stay in Europe. Mr. Hamidou Mamoudou, Director of SSG Oursi, which is a local group of Naturama, the BirdLife Partner in Burkina Faso said “we wished we could have a Birds Directive too”.

At the event, BirdLife launched its new campaign for the protection of migratory birds, “Born to Travel”, the BirdLife Flyways Campaign. The campaign will bring the wonder of bird migration closer to people, and link up efforts to protect birds in Africa, Middle East and Europe.

Science shows that the Birds Directive already helped many birds to recover. However, BirdLife data also demonstrate that more than 40% of long-distance migratory bird species have declined in the last three decades and unfortunately are continuing to decline.These include both common and rare species like the Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos and the Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus, that pass between Africa, the Middle East and Europe every spring and autumn. The new BirdLife campaign will try to raise awareness for this, and also help bird species, that often mistakenly are considered widespread, but are in trouble, such as the Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, the Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus and the European Turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur.

BirdLife welcomed the strong statements the Commissioner gave in favour of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. Misconceptions and attacks from the side of some stakeholders and politicians have to be overcome: Natura 2000 sites are not fenced-off areas, but form “living landscapes” aiming to reconcile nature protection and economic development.

Dr Clairie Papazoglou, Regional Director of the European Division of BirdLife International, concluded: “There are not separate crises, but one big crisis, we have to overcome – economy, climate and biodiversity are inseparably linked. We need a sustainable rescue plan for our planet. 2010 should be the year of turning the tide for the diversity of life”.

4th July 2014