Friday 18 October 2013
EU Natura 2000 network
Many people in the UK are unaware of the 1992 Habitats directive & the 1979 Birds directive or Natura 2000, which is a great shame, it is at one and the same time the most important legislation protecting sites important for wildlife conservation in the UK and, arguably, the best thing about the European Union (EU).
Without Natura 2000, our wild places would be more likely to be lost, yet somehow it is largely overlooked by everyone outside those working for nature conservation bodies or planning. Recently I came across a discussion via Twitter (though the source article was on another website) where people were bemoaning the fact that Levenhall Links (also known as Musselburgh Lagoons, my favourite birdwatching site) isn't a local nature reserve when obviously it should be. I was then discussing this with Crafty Green Boyfriend (who works for a conservation organisation and knows everything there is to know about conservation policy) and he pointed out that Levenhall Links is part of the Firth of Forth Special Protection Area (SPA). The SPA is part of Natura 2000 and is the highest level of nature conservation status in Europe. Try to push forward any development on an SPA and the wrath of Europe falls on you. Which is much better protection for the local wildlife than just being a local nature reserve, which in legislative terms is much less meaningful.So Levenhall Links don't need to be a local nature reserve to protect them, though obviously it would be a nice status for them to have.
Even the broadcast media ignore Natura most of the time. I can't remember it ever being mentioned on Springwatch and Autumnwatch, the otherwise excellent British TV shows that enthuse people to get involved in nature and conservation.
More about Natura 2000
Natura 2000 is an EU-wide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive. These areas include nature reserves and privately owned areas. The directives require member States to take measures designed to maintain or restore certain natural habitats and wild species at a favourable conservation status. The emphasis is on ensuring that the areas are managed in an ecologically sustainable manner.
Natura 2000 aims to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats. It is comprised of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designated by Member States under the Habitats Directive, and also incorporates Special Protection Areas (SPAs) which they designate under the 1979 Birds Directive. SPAs requires Member States to take sufficient measures (legal minefield) to preserve sufficient diversity of habitats for all species of wild birds naturally occurring within the territories.
Natura 2000 also fulfils a European Community obligation under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
Thanks to Crafty Green Boyfriend for input into this blogpost!
As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.