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Europeans Support Wildlife Laws

Don’t undermine the laws that protect nature, say nearly half a million Europeans

Calls to defend nature beat the record for responses to European public consultations

Don’t undermine or wreck the laws protecting nature. That’s the clear and powerful message to the President of the European Commission and his Commissioners from the majority of nearly half a million people across Europe (with around one in five of those coming from the UK) who have so far responded to the consultation on the future of two of Europe’s nature laws: the Birds and Habitats Directives.

As the three-month consultation draws to a close at midnight tonight [Friday 24 July, 2015], conservation and wildlife groups across Europe are delighted with the level of public support which has exceeded all previous consultations on any other European law.

In Europe, four environmental networks, comprising WWF Europe, BirdLife International, the European Environmental Bureau and Friends of the Earth Europe, came together in May launching the Nature Alert campaign in response to the EU Commission’s suggestion to evaluate whether the existing EU nature laws should be changed.

In the UK, 100 organisations came together under the Joint Links umbrella: Wildlife and Countryside Link, Scottish Environment Link, Northern Ireland Environment Link and Wales Environment Link to collect and submit evidence in support of these vital laws.

Geneviève Pons, Director of WWF European Policy Office said on behalf on the Nature Alert NGO coalition: “At a time when the European Union is severely tested, the overwhelming support from all corners of the continent for Europe’s nature laws demonstrates that people can get together and defend what really matters to them. Europeans care about their nature, and the Union’s laws that protect it. Now, it is time for the Commission to listen to the evidence and draw up a plan for nature protection based on more funding and stronger law enforcement.”

Dr Elaine King, Director at Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “Threats to the laws that defend nature across the European Union have been met with a truly staggering response from the public. This shows how much people care about nature and its future. Wildlife groups across Europe have campaigned on the potential threats to nature from reforming these pivotal laws, and Europe’s citizens have heeded the call and responded. The European Commission must listen to what the public has said.”

Chair of the Joint Links’ Habitats and Birds group Kate Jennings, (RSPB), said: “The Birds Directive and its younger sibling – the Habitat’s Directive - have been protecting Europe’s wildlife for over 30 years. Wherever you travel in the United Kingdom or elsewhere in the European Union, from the Flow Country in Scotland to the coastal wetland of southern Spain and from seabird colonies in Ireland to the last remnant of wildwood in eastern Poland, you’re never far from a site that has been protected as a result of these laws.

“We were appalled at hearing the news that the Nature Directives were under threat of being weakened by those who fear that these laws may be a block on economic growth. The evidence debunks this myth and we’re delighted that hundreds of thousands of European people share our concerns. We now need the European Commission to listen.”

The concerns from conservation groups have been mirrored by many in the business sector. Kate Jennings added: “Nature is in crisis. Any change to the laws could spell uncertainty, and potentially add costs, for business. Many industries from ports and shipping to major renewable energy producers on land and at sea have developed ways of working effectively with these laws to ensure developments do not cause unacceptable damage to nature. Changes now would undermine the good practice that has been developed over the years.”

The Joint Links group’s response to the EC consultation sets out a huge volume of evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of the Directives in protecting nature, providing huge benefits for people and providing a stable framework for responsible businesses.

To register your views on the future of the Birds and Habitats Directives, please visit this webpage

RSPB

24th July 2015