European Wildlife Legislation

Flamborough Cliffs (c) Kirsten Smith

EC Birds Directive

The Birds Directive is the EU's oldest piece of nature legislation and was adopted in 1979, in response to 1979 Bern Convention on the conservation of European habitats and species. 

This legislation places an emphasis on habitat protection for endangered and migratory birds, resulting in the creation of a network of Special Protected Areas (SPAs). 

The Directive also bans activities that directly threaten birds (with a few exceptions) including:

  • The deliberate killing/capture of birds
  • Destruction of nests
  • Taking of eggs
  • Trading in live or dead birds

EC Habitats Directive

This Directive is built around the Natura 2000 network of protected areas along with species protection and was adopted in 1992. Under this Directive, Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are strictly protected sites.

Some of the UK marine SACs and SPAs are listed here

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