Wednesday 13 May 2015

Defend The European Laws that protect our wildlife!

Today I walked along the John Muir Walkway to the Musselburgh Lagoons. I had my best ever sighting of a singing whitethroat; had a female wheatear pose in front of me for several minutes (just after I'd wondered to myself why I hadn't yet this year had a decent view of a wheatear!); enjoyed watching a group of male eiders cvourting a couple of females, making a wonderful 'ooh-ooh' noise and periodically throwing their heads back on their necks; watched reed buntings flying around and singing; tried to find skylarks in the sky, but gave up and just listened to their wonderful song; enjoyed the swirling flight of swifts, swallows and house martins. Plus lots of other birds. And this wasn't even an unusually good day for birdwatching here.

The John Muir Walkway and Musselburgh Lagoons are part of the Firth of Forth Special Protection Area. 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.So these areas remain protescted for wildlife..

Many people in the UK are unaware of the 1992 Habitats directive and 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 until recently it has been largely overlooked by everyone outside those working for nature conservation bodies or planning. The broadcast media has tended to ignore Natura most of the time.

And now this whole raft of protective legislation is under threat. 

Currently, European leaders are considering rolling back decades of progress by revising (read weakening) the Directives in the belief that weaker protection for wildlife would be good for business. In reality, this would be bad for business, and a disaster for wildlife.

Conservation organisations in the UK and across Europe are asking the general public to demonstrate their support for these vital pieces of legislation. You can find out more and sign up on the website of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), here

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.

An earlier version of this blog post appeared here.

 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. 


eileeninmd said...

Great post! It is a shame that the government is revising the wildlife protection laws..

Lynn said...

I don't like to hear the wildlife there is under threat. Oh my.

A Cuban In London said...

Thanks for such a didactic and interesting post. I wasn't aware of the precarious situation our wildlife is in.

Greetings from London.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

The whole world , at least the so.called leadership of it, has gone crazy it seems. I hope your voice gets heard.

RG said...

Fire them up - get the public involved - spread the word. I hope the protections stay strong. And others follow suit.

Pietro Brosio said...

Very informative and interesting post.